A Truly Diverse and Equal Society: The Benefits of Promoting Acceptance over Tolerance?


March 20, 2014 :: Suzanne Doerge
Moderated by Danika Jorgensen

In broad terms, diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. It means respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion.

Equality is about creating a fairer society, where everyone can participate and has the same opportunities to fulfil their potential. By eliminating prejudice and discrimination, societies are generally healthier and happier.

Acceptance involves understanding and togetherness; it celebrates differences and allows people of different places and lifestyles to live together and help each other. Accepting someone means that you let them completely into your heart regardless of their lifestyle or way of thinking.

Tolerance involves separateness and ignorance; it requires that two sides endure each other’s presence, even though neither one enjoys it. One side is right and the other one is wrong, but there is nothing that you can do about it. You don’t understand why other people are the way they are and you don’t want to know. The speaker will bring into focus the advantage societies can gain when diversity and equality is promoted and accepted by all.

Speaker: Suzanne Doerge

Suzanne Doerge has been the Executive Director of the Ottawa-based organization, City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) since its founding in 2004. CAWI is a unique collaborative of women from diverse communities, organizations, and academia working with municipal decision makers to create a more inclusive city and promote gender equality. In that capacity, she coordinated a coalition of community leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop an Equity and Inclusion Lens for the City of Ottawa.

Ms Doerge, who has a Masters in Adult Education, has designed and facilitated workshops on social issues for community organizations, institutions and governments locally, nationally and internationally. As an organization committed to diversity, CAWI has trained and coached women from a diversity of backgrounds to have skills for bringing their views forward to decision makers and for facilitating learning opportunities in the community that encourage health and quality of life for everyone.


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