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  • Reply to: Equality of opportunity as an engine of prosperity   3 days 8 hours ago

    Augusto,

    Thank you. I could not agree more. Without trying to be “clever”, I do believe in universal values and principles, in particular those that are common to every religion. The need to elevate them beyond all religions seems to be the crux of the matter. History is there to suggest that some moral maturity and peaceful relations require respect and willingness to dialogue. These, it appears, will not rest on strong foundations as long as men trust to own a divine truth.

  • Reply to: Equality of opportunity as an engine of prosperity   3 days 19 hours ago
    Norie,

    You touch upon the issue of corruption and its destructive effects on human prosperity. I think that in a long-term perspective, anticorruption strategies have to be supported by moral education and the strengthening of the ethical principles underpinning society. Appropriate policies and the right sorts of incentives may, in the end, go some way in addressing the problem of corruption but may in many places not be enough. This may mean reinforcing the civic responsibility component of secular education. It may require religious leaders—who bear such heavy responsibility for the decline of religion as a force for social cohesion—to set aside narrow doctrinal differences and return to the spiritual roots of their respective faiths to revitalize their ability to lead individuals and societies to a stronger identification with the spiritual rather than the material dimension of human nature. In particular, it will involve partnerships with all the organizations and social forces that have a strong ethical foundation. In a society with stronger ethical standards, the struggle against corruption will gain a new source of strength that will complement the progress made in recent years in improving the legal framework designed to combat bribery and corruption.
  • Reply to: Equality of opportunity as an engine of prosperity   3 days 19 hours ago
    Bir,

    I do not believe that the delivery of educational opportunities to women is “wishful thinking” at all. According to the World Bank World Development Report on gender (2012, p. 141) gender gaps in participation in education “have shrunk dramatically at all levels.” In 1980, girls’ primary school enrolment was 75 percent on average across the world and was slightly higher, at 80 percent, for boys. But by 2012 this gap had almost disappeared and there were 89 percent of girls enrolled in primary schooling as against 90 percent of boys. So, if you agree that education is empowering, then women are being empowered as we speak. However, the quality of this education remains weak. Curricula must change, pedagogy redesigned, teachers re-trained, the priorities of school administrations redefined, and governments need to re-adjust budgets and re-allocate resources to cover these new developments. 
  • Reply to: Equality of opportunity as an engine of prosperity   3 days 19 hours ago
    Flavio,

    I like the distinction you make between “clever” and “smart”. What it highlights to me is that societies that empower women and actively work on eliminating various forms of discrimination against them are making it possible to tap into the complementary set of talents and skills that peoples of diverse backgrounds have. You are correct in noting that some issues of discrimination have a “cultural” dimension, and whether, in fact, we have a set of broadly accepted universal values. One important consideration in this respect is whether those claiming cultural exceptions are speaking with credible authority. In the 1990s Taliban representatives used to claim that forbidding women to work and prohibiting girls from going to school was part of their “culture” and that the international community should respect these choices. However, the Taliban never actually asked Afghanistan’s 11 million women whether they agreed with these restrictions (they didn’t!) and thus their claims to speak on behalf of Afghan society lacked all credibility.
  • Reply to: Equality of opportunity as an engine of prosperity   3 days 22 hours ago

    Very interesting article dealing with an urgent matter. Two points come to mind: first, it seems that a psychological feature is an important aspect of the problem. It could be the subject matter of another blog. As an example, the observation that “women workers are less prone to corruption and nepotism than men workers” is almost equivalent to saying that women are more realistic, or less risky, that men. It could perhaps mean that women are “clever” and men “smart”. Anecdotal evidence tends to confirm that. Second, the fact that discriminations of all sorts are major hurdles to development is often a problem of a “cultural” nature and, as always, it relates to the universal recognition of “universal” principles and values. Unfortunately, it seems that universality is not fashionable these days.