Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers ranks 164 countries on women’s access to health care, education and opportunities. Norway is the world’s best place to be a mother, and eight of the 10 top-ranked countries are in Western Europe. The remaining two are in the southern hemisphere, with Australia ranking second and New Zealand eighth.
This year, the United States ranks 31st of 44 developed countries, dropping three spots from last year’s rankings. Meanwhile, eight of the world’s 10 worst countries to be a mother are in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the worst place in the world to be a mother is Afghanistan.
Despite ongoing conflict and rising civilian casualties, expecting mothers in Afghanistan are at least 200 times more likely to die during childbirth than from bombs or bullets. One in 11 Afghan women will die from pregnancy or childbirth complications in her lifetime and only 14 percent of mothers in the country give birth with help from any kind of skilled health worker. In Norway, by comparison, the risk of maternal mortality is only 1 in 7,600 and nearly all births are attended by skilled help.
Afghanistan is also the most dangerous place to be born. One in five children will die before their fifth birthday. Afghan girls attend school for an average of only five years and female life expectancy is only 45. Compare that to Norway, where 1 in 333 children die before age 5 and women typically complete 18 years of school and live to age 83.
“In many countries, vaccines, antibiotics, and care during pregnancy are hard to reach and as a result child and maternal death rates are very high,” said Mary Beth Powers, chief of Save the Children’s newborn and child survival campaign. “This Mother’s Day, world leaders should honor mothers everywhere by ensuring they can celebrate what they want most — healthy children. That means helping all families, moms and babies be within reach of a trained health worker.”
The full 2011 State of the World’s Mothers report, titled “Champions for Children: Why Investing in Maternal and Child Health in Developing Countries is Good for America” can be found at http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6743707/k.219/State_of_the_Worlds_Mothers_2011.htm.
It includes the rankings and essays from former Senators Bill Frist and John Corzine, best-selling authors Rick and Kay Warren, former Xerox Chair Anne Mulcahy and actress Jennifer Garner. The site will also feature an embeddable documentary from Link TV’s ViewChange.org that takes a global tour of what’s working in the fight to improve and save the lives of at-risk mothers and children.