The Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE) with support from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs organized the annual SITE Development Day conference, which is dedicated to discussing initiatives that can help create a more equal society and improve economic development.
SITE Development Day brought together distinguished academics, industry experts, gender and development economists, policymakers, and guests interested in the topic. The conference speakers and panelists discussed how gender discrimination negatively impacts the productivity of low and middle-income economies, but also how reforms and specific initiatives can improve the situation. In addition, interesting historical perspectives were presented, discussing the origins of differences in gender norms.
In the panel dedicated to gender development in Eastern Europe and Eastern partnership countries, Tamta Maridahvili, a research fellow at ISET-PI, presented the unique experience of Georgia. The country has undergone a transition period of 26 years in regards to the phenomenon known as gender-biased sex selection: from one of the highest sex ratios at birth (115 male per 100 female births) in the world, it has come back to its normal level (105 male per 100 female births).
Malpractice became salient in Georgia during the 1990s, picked up in 2004, and then started to decrease. Tamta discussed the root cause (which is a cultural preference for sons) and the determinants of the practice as well as its consequences. She also suggested reasons behind the improving trend, such as the strengthening of state institutions and social security systems, and the stigmatizing of abortion (which is the principal tool to achieve sex selection) by the most trusted institute in Georgia, the Orthodox Church, and more recent cultural influences from the West. However, to be able to present evidence-based determinants, an ISET team has planned to carry out a quantitative study aimed at capturing certain institutional changes and their impact on the trend.