WESTPORT, Conn., May 6 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Save the Children, a U.S.-based independent global humanitarian organization, today released its ninth annual Mothers’ Index that ranks the best — and worst — places to be a mother and a child. The Mother’s Index, highlighted in the organization’s State of the World’s Mothers 2008 report, compares the well-being of mothers and children in 146 countries, more than in any previous year.
Nordic countries sweep the top rankings of the best places to be a mother, while countries in sub-Saharan Africa dominate the bottom tier. Among industrialized countries, the United States places 27th this year, one slot down from last year’s ranking. For the rankings of less-developed countries, Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay and Costa Rica figure among the top-10 places to be a mother.
For the entire index, top countries, in general, have very high scores for mothers’ and children’s health, educational and economic status, while the bottom-ranked countries are a reverse image, performing poorly on all indicators.
Conditions for mothers and their children in countries at the bottom of the Index are bleak. On average, 1 in 21 mothers will die in her lifetime from pregnancy-related causes. More than 1 child in 6 dies before her fifth birthday, roughly 1 in 3 suffers from malnutrition, and only 3 girls for every 4 boys are enrolled in primary school.
“A mother’s well-being is connected to her children’s well-being,” said Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children. “It is not surprising, then, that in the worst places to be a mom, both women and children die young.”
In Latin America, a woman’s lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy-related causes is 1 in 290.
“There is a great divide between the status of mothers’ health and well-being in rich and poor countries,” added MacCormack. “In rich nations, where women have access to basic health care, giving birth is usually a time of joy. But in poor countries, where there is little or no access to skilled health workers, it is typically tragic.”
“To close the gap and improve conditions for mothers and children, especially among the poorest, the global community needs to do a better job of providing mothers with access to education, income-earning opportunities and basic health care — for mothers and their children,” said MacCormack.
The status of mothers was compared in 146 countries based on the following indicators of women’s and children’s well-being:
— Lifetime risk of maternal mortality
— Percentage of women using modern contraception
— Skilled attendant at delivery
— Female life expectancy
— Expected number of years of formal schooling for females
— Ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income
— Maternity leave benefits
— Participation of women in national government
— Under-5 mortality rate
— Percentage of children under age 5 moderately or severely underweight
— School enrollment ratios
— Ratio of girls to boys enrolled in primary school
— Percentage of population with access to safe water
Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. For more information, visit http://www.savethechildren.org . The agency works to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries.