More gender equity means more development. Improving gender equity is not only a goal with an intrinsic value. A substantial body of research highlights the linkages between gender equity and the achievement of other development goals, such as health, education, social and economic rights fulfillment, and even growth.
“The lobby of the Metropole, Moscow's lovingly restored grand hotel a few blocks from Red Square, is almost deserted on this gray spring afternoon. That's just fine with Jeffrey D. Sachs, a boyish-looking 38-year-old Harvard professor who is now probably the most important economist in the world. He has appropriated a cluster of comfortable armchairs for a meeting with two members of his team, Americans who work full time in Russia. The agenda is Russia's safety net or, more precisely, whether unemployed workers will be able to make ends meet.
Back in 1991, I attended a big “Does Socialism Have a Future?” conference hosted by my alma mater, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The session I remember most vividly featured a Hungarian dissident, a poet, ridiculing ineffective communist propaganda. “Communists”, he told a sympathetic audience, “tried to convince us that jeans can cause impotence in young males and that Coca Cola is bad for people’s health”.
Tobacco consumption is widely known for its negative effects on health. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, just in the USA, an estimated 443,000 people die per year prematurely due to inhaling cigarette smoke. As there are 46 million smokers in the USA, it means that in any given year, the likelihood to “die prematurely” because of one’s smoking habit is almost 1% (under the admittedly strong assumption that these numbers are constant in the long run). If one smokes for 10 years, the probability that one’s life will be cut short goes up to 9%.
In a sense, life was relatively simple back in the Soviet Union days. Consumers had few choices, and material aspirations were limited to the unholy trinity of “apartment, car, and dacha”. That said, homo Sovieticus spent enormous amounts of time and energy chasing material goods ranging from potatoes to nylon stockings and cars.