The Best-- and Worst-- Places To Be a Mother

 State of the Worlds Mothers 2010: Women on the Front Lines of Health Care Photo credit: Michael Bisceglie

Countries must invest in women who are front-line health care workers, says Save the Children in its new report on the State of the World's Mothers 2010.

To highlight how investments in women health workers on the front lines can save children's lives, the Ad Council and Save the Children have launched a public service advertising campaign and companion website GoodGoes.org.

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Save the Children's 'State of the World's Mothers Report 2010'Shows Norway Tops the List, Afghanistan Ranks Last, U.S. Falls to 28th, Behind Many Other Wealthy Nations

WESTPORT, Conn. (May 4, 2010) — Mothers in Norway and Australia are living in the best places in the world, according to Save the Children's 11th annual "Mothers' Index", which ranks the best and worst places to be a mother.  Afghanistan ranked at the bottom of the list of 160 countries, which included 43 developed nations and 117 in the developing world.

The "Mothers' Index" is highlighted in Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers 2010 report, which examines the many ways women working on the front lines of health care are helping to save the lives of mothers, newborns and young children, and makes an urgent call to increase the number of front-line health workers in the world's poorest nations. 

The Index is based on an analysis of indicators of women's and children's health and well-being, and clearly illustrates that providing mothers with access to education, economic opportunities and maternal and child health care gives mothers and their children the best chance to survive and thrive.

Top 10 Places To Be a Mother

Among the top 10 best places to be a mother:  Norway ranks first, followed by Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.  Among the bottom 10 places:  Afghanistan ranks last, preceded by Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

The United States places 28, down from 27 in 2009, primarily because its rate for maternal mortality – 1 in 4,800 – is one of the highest in the developed world.   The U.S. also ranks behind many other wealthy nations in terms of the generosity of maternity leave policies.

"While the situation in the United States needs to improve, mothers in the developing world are facing far greater risks to their own health and that of their children," said Mary Beth Powers, Save the Children's Newborn and Child Survival Campaign Chief.  "The shortage of skilled birth attendants and challenges in accessing birth control means that women in countries at the bottom of the list face the most pregnancies and the most risky birth situations, resulting in newborn and maternal deaths."

Country Comparisons:

  • Fewer than 15 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Afghanistan and Chad.  In Ethiopia, only 6 percent of births are attended.  Skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Norway. 
  • The risk for a woman to die of pregnancy or childbirth-related causes in Niger is 1 in 7.  The risk is 1 in 8 in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and Italy, the risk of maternal death is less than 1 in 25,000 and in Ireland it is less than 1 in 47,600.  

  • 1 child in 5 does not reach his or her fifth birthday in Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.  In Afghanistan, child mortality rates are higher than 1 in 4.  In Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg and Sweden, only 1 child in 333 dies before age 5.
  • A typical female in Afghanistan, Angola, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea and Guinea-Bissau receives less than five years of formal education.  In Niger, women receive less than four years.  In Australia and New Zealand, the average woman stays in school for more than 20 years.
  • In Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen, women earn 25 cents or less for every dollar men earn.  Saudi Arabian and Palestinian women earn only 16 and 12 cents respectively to the male dollar.  In Mongolia, women earn 87 cents for every dollar men earn and in Mozambique they earn 90 cents.

New Public Service Ad Campaign "See Where the Good Goes™"

"The disparities between countries influenced my decision to lead Save the Children's newborn and child survival campaign, called See Where the Good Goes," said Powers.  "I am lucky enough to have 4 children who are healthy and well-nourished, but so many mothers around the world are struggling to keep their children alive."

"Our campaign, which includes a multimedia public service advertising partnership with The Ad Council, is designed to educate citizens in the developed and developing world by letting them know that more moms and babies can survive if they just had access to the basic health care services and better nutrition habits that have been demonstrated to save lives.  These solutions are cost-effective investments and Save the Children is asking our global political leaders to keep their commitments to expand coverage of lifesaving interventions delivered by skilled health workers."

See the State of the World's Mothers 2010 report.

To learn more about the "See Where the Good Goes" campaign, go to GoodGoes.org.

Media contacts:

Tanya Weinberg, tweinberg@savechildren.org, 202-640-6647 (o), 202-257-6610 (c)

Eileen Burke, eburke@savechildren.org, 203-221-4233 (o), 203-216-0718 (c)

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and 120 countries around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.