Save the Children has released their 13th annual Mothers' Index as part of the 2012 State of the World's Mothers report just in time for Mother's Day here in the states. The organization surveyed 165 countries and analyzed factors like maternal death rate and years of formal schooling for women to compile the list.
A mother and her child in Kyrgyzstan
The top 10 countries are, as expected, wealthy and developed nations, all of which are European except for Australia and New Zealand. The bottom 10--the "worst places to be a mother"-- are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, where life expectancy and years of female schooling are very low. The United States ranks 25th, up 6 spots from last year. The report contends that over half the world's children do not have access to the lifesaving six--water, sanitation and hygiene, breastfeeding, Iron folate and Vitamin A supplementation, complementary feeding, and Zinc for the treatment of diarrhea. With universal coverage accounting for the six lifesaving factors, the estimated deaths prevented would amount to over 2 million annually.
The report, which praises countries with the infrastructure required to support new mothers and their children, highlights the discrepancies between First and Third World nations. For example, considering the highest ranked country, Norway, and the lowest ranked, Niger, the differences are astounding. Norwegian women can expect 18 years of formal education, while women in Niger can expect an average of 4. With the advantages of modern healthcare and state-sanctioned initiatives for the protection of women, the life expectancy for a woman in Norway is 83; in Niger, it is 56.
The differences alone are not enough to consider; rather, to understand the rate of development, one must consider innumerable factors like structural adjustment, the aid policies of the World Bank, and cultural differences that account for governmental practices that may limit the success of women.
Click through for a slideshow of the Top 30, and as Mother's Day approaches stateside, consider the fate of women worldwide and what we can do to ensure next year is better for all the ladies around the world.
Image source savethechildrenweb.org