We explain what equal opportunities are, how to overcome social inequalities and their importance in democracy.
What is equal opportunities?
When we talk about equal opportunities, we mean the idea that all people should have the same starting point in society. In other words, only our effort and our own decisions can mark our development , without our existence being determined by our social or economic position of birth.
However, in our capitalist democratic societies , not everyone comes to the world in the same conditions: some are born in a well-off home, with all doors open, and others in less favored homes, with shortcomings and therefore with less opportunities and a more uphill life.
This phenomenon, known as social inequality , is common in virtually all human societies , to a greater or lesser extent. However, in some cases such a gap can be overcome, thus allowing social mobility (the change of socioeconomic class, on the rise or on the decline), while in others it is practically insurmountable.
In this context, social justice is the political perspective that defends the right of every individual to have the same opportunities as others. Thus, the individual can take advantage of them and overcome themselves, or miss them and fail. In both cases, it will be a consequence of their actions and not of their inheritance, that is, of the mistakes and the faults committed by their parents.
Many governments and nonprofit organizations struggle to close the opportunity gap between the poor and the rich, or among other social segments.
For example, among the claims of feminism since the end of the 19th century is the idea of equal opportunities for study, work and remuneration for men and women. However, even today there is a wage gap between the payment of a man and that of a woman who do the same job.
Importance of equal opportunities
Equal opportunities are the only guarantee of a more equitable social future , which allows for diversification, mutual growth of the different sectors of the community, and the exchange of wealth in terms that are really due to effort, creativity, to work, and not to inherited conditions.
This, in addition, is key to a more equitable culture, which rewards the effort in the same way , coming from whoever comes: men, women, religious, laity, migrants, natives, etc.
There are many social sectors that oppose this idea, since they consider that the difference in opportunities is the “natural order” of humanity. On the other hand, it is difficult to accept how much of each person’s success is due to determining conditions beyond their own efforts.
Recall, in addition, that throughout history the distinction between powerful and subdued, between rich and poor has not always been the same. Those who nowadays belong to the favored stratum at other times could have had all the doors closed, or vice versa.