What is worth fighting for?

I have come in contact with the concepts of equality and equity. Sometimes I know I understand them and sometimes that feeling of knowing slips away into nothingness.

Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.
Equity is the quality of being fair and impartial.

The following visuals describe this quite well.

Taken from King County

Since the best way to understand a concept is to link it to one’s own experiences and actions, this is my first attempt at analyzing what is worth fighting for for me and whether that is an equity or equality situation.

Even if I do not join a public rally or be on a panel for a public debate, there are still many values that I believe in and fight for every day. Here are two initiatives that I analyze today.

By being part of a student-run academic journal on campus that aimsto give publishing opportunity to undergraduates, I am working towards getting undergraduate students familiar with the review process as well as academic writing.

I entered graduate school with no previous publishing knowledge and little training in academic writing in my chosen specialization. I took technical writing courses, yes, but each field has its own lingo and form of writing and in the last three years, I feel I have relearned how to write in Computing Science and Education.

As graduates, our research is focused on a particular topic and by working with other graduate students and our supervisors, we endeavour to publish our findings in high ranked journals and present them at leading conferences. The process is long with multiple review cycles and often knocking on multiple journal’s doors one after another when one falls through. By publishing with a student-run academic journal, whose reviewers are professors, experts in the fields and sometimes even graduate students and post doctorate fellows, we give undergraduates a safe place in which they can figure out not only what the process is and feel the stresses that come with it, but also see themselves as graduate students and researchers.

Is this equality or equity? I feel it is about equality. Anyone who wishes to publish with us, we review their article, and if we find that it is has a strong message, sound experimentation method and possibility to generate more discussions, amongst other criteria, we work with the author and reviewers to make it a better article. If it is not up to the standard we have for an article to go through first round of reviews, we direct them to resources on campus that can help with the writing. This would have been equity if we were working with them anyway to get them up to the standard of being able to publish with us.

I grew up surrounded by books. My Dad has lived in Canada most of my life while I grew up in India. He made it his mission to encourage my love for reading and learning by sending me a parcel of 10–15 books twice every year. These were books that were either not available in India or which became available in India a couple of years after I read them, possibly because they were received well by the Western world and the publishers decided to let them be read by the Eastern world as well.

There are a number of books that I have read since I moved here that I have recommended to my friends back home and it is now that I realize that they do not have access to many of these great books because they never reached India in an affordable way. I am not saying they can’t buy these books at all. They can. But they are 5 times as expensive as any other book in India that it makes no sense to spend that much on a book. Yes, if you convert $22, the price of the book in Canada, to Indian Rupees, it will turn out to be INR 1,073 but when books from International authors are actually in the INR 500–700 range, who will buy and ship the INR 1000 book?

In a world where we have access to eBooks, a number of times, those eBooks too do not become available to other countries till years later. I do not understand the publishing world and how and when books are marketed to other countries, but I feel bad that I am able to read these wonderful books and recommend them and my friends cannot access them. Maybe I need to start sending books home that I want them to read and make an exchange program out of it.

Is this about equality or equity? I think this is about both. By deciding that one region of the world will or will not have access to a book is, in my opinion, not providing equal opportunity. I might be able to make an argument against it if the book was in a language that is not prevalent in that country, but India is very much an English speaking country and we even have authors who write in English. Yet, we do not get access to great works of other authors. I expect the same to be true regarding Indian author’s books being available here. However, I cannot comment on that because I have not been recommended one yet. :)

My attempt to send my books to my friends, or helping them find a website from where they can buy the eBook version, is an attempt at equity. I want them to read it and feel that it would benefit them and as a result, I will make an effort for them to get it.

Have you ever struggled with or witnessed inequality or inequity? What did you do about it? Please share. Another way to understand a concept is to learn from others experiences.

It is possible that your views are different from mine and you know more about equity and equality than I do. Please feel free to correct me and help me understand these concepts better.

If you liked what I wrote, please clap or follow me for similar stories. Thank you for reading!