Top 10 Best and Worst Countries to Be a Mother

Save the Children’s twelfth annual Mothers’ Index compares the well-being of mothers and children in 164 countries.

Norway, Australia, and Iceland top the rankings.  The top 10 countries, in general, attain very high scores for mothers’ and children’s health, educational, and economic status.  Afghanistan ranks last among the 164 countries surveyed.  The 10 bottom ranked countries – eight from sub-Saharan Africa – are a reverse image of the top 10, performing poorly on all indicators.  The United States placed 31st.

Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom countries are grim.  On average, 1 woman in 30 will die from pregnancy-related causes.  1 child in 6 dies before his or her fifth birthday, and 1 child in 3 suffers from malnutrition.  Nearly 50 percent of the population lacks access to safe water and only 4 girls for every 5 boys are enrolled in primary school.

The gap in availability of maternal and child health services is especially dramatic when comparing Norway and Afghanistan.  Skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Norway, while only 14 percent of births are attended in Afghanistan.  A typical Norwegian woman has 18 years of formal education, will live to be 83 years old, and only 1 in 175 will lose a child before his or her fifth birthday.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, in Afghanistan, a typical woman has fewer than five years of education, will not live to be 45, and 1 child in 5 dies before reaching age 5.  At this rate, every mother in Afghanistan is likely to suffer the loss of a child.

Focusing on the children’s well-being portion of the Mothers’ Index, Sweden finishes first and Somalia is last out of 164 countries.  While nearly every Swedish child – girl and boy alike – enjoys good health and education, children in Somalia face a more than 1 in 6 risk of dying before age 5.  36 percent of Somali children are malnourished and 70 percent lack access to safe water.  1 in 3 primary school-aged children in Somalia is enrolled in school, and within that meager enrollment, boys outnumber girls almost 2 to 1.

These statistics go far beyond mere numbers.  The human despair and lost opportunities represented in these numbers demand that the church reaches out to mothers everywhere and provides them with the basic tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life for themselves, their children, and generations to come.

Posted by Dale Hudson