In honor of Mother’s Day, Save the Children released its 12th annual Mothers Index report,“Champions for Children: Why Investing in Maternal and Child Health in Developing Countries is Good for America,” which rated 164 countries to determine the best countries in which to be a mother. The rating was based on maternal and child mortality rates, women’s life expectancy, maternity leave, and women’s education. It found Norway to be the best place to be a mother and Afghanistan the worst.
In Afghanistan, women have an average life expectancy of 45 and approximately 1 out of every 11 (which was 1 out of 8) women dies during childbirth. Moreover, Afghan women are 200 more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than from bombings or bullets. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, “Thirty years of war in Afghanistan has destroyed the health care system. Plus there is an acute shortage of clear water and sanitation and adequate nutrition in Afghanistan.”
Mary Beth Powers, chief of Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Survival Campaign, stated, “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. 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 United States placed 31st out of the 44 industrialized countries that were rated, primarily due to its higher maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rate in its highly populated inner city areas. According to the report, women in the US are 7 times more likely to die during childbirth, especially women of color, than women in Italy or Ireland. In addition, 8 out of every 1,000 children born in the US die before reaching age 5. Current maternity leave in Europe, which is paid, far surpasses the Family and Medical Leave Act in the US, which only provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave.