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Equality, what does it mean to you?

The Festival of Equality took place last weekend in Ghent. The goal of this event was to both connect and celebrate our differences. This happened through debates or talks, for example by world famous author Dave Eggers. Or through music, for example by actor and musician Pieter Embrechts. But also through images such as the groundbreaking documentary Tehran Taboo. Chase writer Eline Rymenans was present at the festival and asked some visitors what the term ‘equality’ means to them.

Text and photos by Eline Rymenans

Wide Vercnocke (33), illustrator
Equality to me means equality at all levels. Whether that be equality between rich and poor, male and female, or between different ethnicities. The issues between these groups are getting more noticeable now because of the internet.

The organizers of the festival asked me to draw something on this wall. It symbolises everyone attending the festival coming together to inspire this work of art. The idea behind it is to treat the artist and the viewers equal. Normally it would be my job to bring an idea to the people, but this time I’m letting them decide.

Instagram: @widevercnocke

Raf Njotea (32), scriptwriter and opinion maker
I’m here at the festival to speak at the panel “Through white glasses”. We'll discuss how the predominant view on the world in the West is still white. Personally, I experience a lot less negativity than I used to when I was a kid. However, when you’re someone like me, who joins in on the public debate, you receive a lot of backlash and weird reactions from people.

My view on equality may be kind of a cliché, but to me equality does not mean that everybody is the same. There is so much diversity in our world, it’s impossible for everybody to be the same. But, every one of those people should get the same rights and the same responsibilities.

Instagram: @rafnjotea

Barbara sitting in front of the Vooruit

Barbara (22), student Marketing
Yesterday, I was having a discussion with my boyfriend about whether you should put a picture of yourself on your CV, or not. At my previous workplace we would always look at those pictures to see if that person was attractive. My boyfriend pointed out that being attractive works to your advantage. But when I really think about it, it’s not okay to me to judge people only on their looks.

Instagram: @barbaradesmyter

Fé (20), student Social Work, and Feline (21), student Conflict and Development
In both of our study programs, equality is an important aspect. To us it means accessibility for everyone. We should facilitate opportunities and empower everyone. We are not the same, but we are equal.

Emma and Célina in front of equality graffiti

Emma (19) & Célina (20), both students Social Work
The most important thing to be equal is for everyone to have the same opportunities. No one can ever be the same as someone else. But you can have the same goals and reach those goals equally, but from different positions in life.

We as women sometimes have to endure prejudices. Men tend to look down upon us as if we’re less intelligent than them. They’re surprised when we share our educational knowledge, as if they didn’t expect us to be this smart.

Instagram: @spitsaelsemma & @c.elxna

Martin Heylen

Martin Heylen (62), television producer and presenter
Equality is an obvious fact to me. And whether it be about race, or gender, or anything else, respect is the one thing that exceeds all of those. Respect is the foundation of equality. But I have to admit I’m only human and I make mistakes as well.

I noticed that there are some prejudices in my mind. The best way to combat those is to participate in festivals like these. To come here and listen to people with their own unique vision is something that has taught me you shouldn’t always rely on your own instincts. It’s important to start with showing respect. But you should also be open to other people’s way of thinking and those people pointing out your mistakes.

And now we ask the same question to you guys, what does equality mean to you? Let us know in the comments!

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