Society diversity

Striving for Real Equality in Society – Richa Okhandiar-MacDougall

Richa Okhandiar-MacDougall, Principal Administrator at Converge and Art Psychotherapy Masters Student, Queen Margaret University

Most people want a fairer and more egalitarian society, but it is a tough business and cannot be accomplished alone. Change, even positive, is scary.

All over the world, and especially since the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement increased in the summer of 2020, we know that it is not an option to be indifferent to the tragedies and discrimination that permeate the systems in the world. which we all work for. While difficult and necessary conversations have taken place, how do we use this momentum to implement equality and change the status quo? Understanding what equality means is extremely important for us as individuals, but we also need to go further by understanding the systems and processes around us that cause damage.

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We live in an unequal society and face many obstacles: racism, sexism, poverty, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, classism and more in the context of a growing wealth gap, climate change and a global pandemic . What we know about how the world works is crucial to changing our reactions to these systems and behaviors. Equality doesn’t just mean giving everyone exactly the same opportunity. We need to understand that we all come from different starting points. We need to ask ourselves whether the “one size fits all” approach takes into account the institutional barriers and biases that people are forced to face.

Members of the public kneel to mark the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, which spurred the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

How can we engage with equality beyond our own individual consideration of discrimination and work to push for institutional change? It requires solving uncomfortable and difficult problems and working to unlearn and dismantle what we know. An important question to ask ourselves is whether the processes in which we are currently participating are even capable of doing this? I would say they are not.

At Converge, Scotland’s largest business start-up program for the academic sector, we strive to embed these values ​​of equality into the work we do and the projects we support. However, we know that involves asking ourselves tough questions. Through our work, we collaborate with 18 universities across Scotland and a large network of partners. So how can we use our voice to speak up and implement the change within our own agenda and what will that look like?

Converge strives to support ideas and innovations that care about social impact and aim to create something that will change people’s lives for the better. Since this is one of our core tenets, we also continue to question ourselves to make sure we don’t become complacent, asking ourselves how can we do better?

We are keen to go beyond the traditional discourse of equality opportunities and tackle the real issues by providing direct funding and support for those innovative and radical ideas that support systemic change and offer real alternative options. to the status quo.

It is often a question of power: who has the power and are they willing to give it up? I think it’s vital that we open a dialogue to understand power and how the systems we are in benefit those in power. Power can be understood at the individual, organizational and structural level and should be explored in depth. I’m really interested in the redistribution of power and resources. Power as a collective and collaborative force rather than hierarchical and imposed by domination.

Working for equality will involve us all. This can and should be a shared common goal, but it will be difficult for many. The refocusing of power and the questioning of dominant narratives and systems deserve to be defended.