Introduction to GBA+

Are we striving for equity or equality?

We consider sex, gender and other identity factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability so that we can take actions to promote equality. Not considering these factors can lead to increased inequality. Furthermore, many are confused about the difference between equality and equity. Although these terms are similar, there are significant differences that exist between the two concepts.

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

Equality vs equity

There is a lot of buzz in Canada about gender equality.  What does equality look like? How do we achieve it? Is it about treating everyone equally?

An office desk appears then a desktop computer appears with the GBA+ logo on the computer screen. The following headlines come out of the desktop computer screen:
“Gender equality and diversity require culture change says consultant”
"Women's groups urge adoption of proportional representation"
"Canada's gender-equal cabinet makes headlines around world, social media"
TEXT ON SCREEN –
EQUALITY
HOW DO WE ACHIEVE IT?
EQUALLY

Many of us have seen variations of this illustration.
It compares equality and equity. 

Two illustrations appear on the desktop computer screen. Each illustration shows three stick-figures of different heights attempting to watch fireworks behind a fence. In the first illustration, each stick-figure is standing on a box but only the tallest stick-figure can see the fireworks over the fence. The word “EQUALITY” appears over this illustration. In the second illustration, the tallest stick-figure is standing on one box, the second-tallest stick-figure is standing on two boxes and the shortest stick-figure is standing on three boxes, so that their heads are all at the same level and all three stick-figures can see the fireworks over the fence. The word “EQUITY” appears over this illustration.

These concepts are related, but not the same.

In this scene, everyone is treated exactly the same, with the assumption that all people will benefit equally. This scene shows equal treatment.

A piece of paper flies onto the desktop. The three stick-figures appear, once again, on the paper. Each is walking and carrying one box. They each drop their box and stand on it. Only the tallest stick-figure can see over the fence. There is a camera flash and click sound to freeze the animation on the paper. Then the words EQUAL TREATMENT appear on the bottom of the paper.

Equity is the quality of being fair, which often requires treatment that is not the same. Individuals are given different supports so that they have equal access to the view. They are being treated equitably. This scene shows equity.

A second piece of paper flies onto the desktop and the two shortest stick-figures jump off their boxes and add more. The tallest stick-figure is still standing on one box but the second tallest stick-figure is now standing on two boxes and the shortest stick-figure is standing on three boxes. Their heads are now all at the same level and all three stick-figures can see the fireworks over the fence. There is a camera flash and click sound to freeze the animation on the paper. Then the word EQUITY appears on the bottom of the paper.

In this scene, the systemic barrier for the viewers is removed. All three have access to the view without any supports or accommodations. This scene demonstrates true equality.

A third piece of paper flies onto the desktop and then the fence disappears, as do the boxes that all three stick-figures are standing on. Now all three stick-figures can see the fireworks without boxes. There is a camera flash and click sound to freeze the animation on the paper. Then the words TRUE EQUALITY appear on the bottom of the paper.

Gender equality means that all genders have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights.

The camera pans over to a tablet on the desk. A hand turns on the tablet. An image of several multi-coloured hands rise up on the tablet screen. The words HUMAN RIGHTS appear above the tablet.

They are equal participants in their home, their community and their society.

The hand swipes the tablet screen to reveal a new image of a community of diverse people, with houses behind them, and a cityscape in the background.

Different groups of people may experience the same situation differently,

The hands swipes the tablet screen to reveal the following text: DIFFERENT GROUPS OF PEOPLE MAY EXPERIENCE THE SAME SITUATION DIFFERENTLY

such as access to services and employment,

The image on the tablet switches to an icon of a person being helped by another person at a service desk. The word SERVICES appears above the tablet.

and the experience of violence. Barriers can be formal or informal, intentional or unintentional.

So, how can we identify and remove these systemic barriers? Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is an analytical tool used to assess how diverse groups of people may experience initiatives.

Stairs with three steps appear. A stick-figure with a briefcase walks up the stairs. A stick-figure holding a cane rises out of the top step. Another stick-figure walks up the stairs. Another stick-figure pushing a stroller stops at the bottom step and looks up.
TEXT ON SCREEN –
ANALYTICAL TOOL appears on the riser of the top step.
DIVERSE GROUPS OF PEOPLE appears on the riser of the middle step.
EXPERIENCE INITIATIVES appears on the riser of the bottom step.


The “plus” acknowledges that GBA goes beyond sex and gender. It also includes the consideration of many other identity factors.

The GBA+ logo appears. A new plus sign spins out from the plus sign in the GBA+ logo as the GBA+ logo disappears. Several intersecting lines appear around the plus sign. The words Sex and Gender appear on the horizontal bar of the plus sign.
TEXT ON SCREEN – The following words fly out from the center of the plus sign: BEYOND, CONSIDERATION, IDENTITY FACTORS.


We all have multiple identity factors that intersect to make us who we are.

And, equity and equality aren’t only about gender.

Four new bars appear on the plus sign forming a pin-wheel. The following 10 words appear on each arm of the pinwheel: Race, Ethnicity, Religion, Age, Disability, Geography, Culture, Income, Sexual orientation, Education.
The camera pans over to a tablet on the desk. A hand turns on the tablet.

Many benefit from removing barriers for groups of people. Consider …

  • Large print versions of documents for the visually impaired
    An image of piece of paper with the words LARGE PRINT appears on the tablet screen. The words LARGE PRINT VERSIONS appear above the tablet.
  • Uniforms that allow for religious wear
    The hand swipes the tablet screen. The word UNIFORMS appears on the tablet screen surrounded by icons of religious buildings and people in religious wear. The words ALLOW FOR RELIGIOUS WEAR appear above the tablet.
  • Family washrooms for parents with young children
    The hand swipes the tablet screen. An image of a family washroom sign appears next to a washroom door on the tablet screen. The words FAMILY WASHROOMS appear above the tablet.
  • Flexible parental leave policies.
    The hand swipes the tablet screen. An image of a male stick-figure holding a baby appears on the tablet screen. The words FLEXIBLE PARENTAL LEAVE appear above the tablet.

Each of us has biases that can make it hard to know if and when equitable actions are needed. Use GBA+ as a guide to challenge your assumptions and to learn more about how diverse people may experience policies, programs and everyday conditions. By taking equitable action today, we set the stage for true equality tomorrow.

On a piece of paper on the desktop three stick figures are shown. Each is standing on one box but only the tallest stick-figure can see the fireworks over the fence. The two shortest stick-figures jump off their boxes and add more. The tallest stick-figure is still standing on one box but the second tallest stick-figure is now standing on two boxes and the shortest stick-figure is standing on three boxes. Their heads are now all at the same level and all three stick-figures can see the fireworks over the fence. The fence then disappears, as do the boxes. Now all three stick-figures can see the fireworks without boxes to stand on. Finally, a fourth stick-figure in a wheelchair appears and shakes hands with the tallest stick-figure.
ON-SCREEN TEXT - EQUALITY

Visit Status of Women Canada and check out our demystifying GBA+ job aid on gcpedia.

Information is available upon request for those outside the government of Canada.

It is important to note that in Canadian law, the term “equality” is generally understood to mean substantive equality.