This Mother’s Day, what moms have to celebrate varies dramatically depending on where they live, according to Save the Children’s 2011 State of the World’s Mothers report, which 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 43 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.
The world’s toughest place to be a mother is Afghanistan, where two of every five children are malnourished and one in five will die before their fifth birthday. Afghan women have less than five years of schooling on average, and female life expectancy is only 45. Compare that to Norway, where one in 333 children die before age five and women typically complete 18 years of school and live to age 83.
“In many countries, access to basic vaccines, antibiotics, and care during pregnancy is very limited 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.”
In an effort to improve the care for mothers in the developing world, Save the Children and the Ad Council launched a national PSA campaign last May. The campaign aims to show Americans that they can have a significant impact on saving and improving the lives of at-risk children by supporting the training of local health workers in underserved communities. These frontline workers promote health practices like immunization and breastfeeding and treat children who are seriously ill. The campaign’s interactive website, www.GoodGoes.org, provides visitors with opportunities to take action and to “See where the good goes” through the eyes of health workers sharing on-the-job challenges in five countries.
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 downloaded at www.savethechildren.org. 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.
To take a deeper look into the lives of the world’s mothers, Save the Children has partnered with independent non-profit broadcaster, Link TV, on a new half-hour documentary that draws from the State of the World’s Mothers Report.