On Mother's Day, Best & Worst Places in World to be a Mom

| by Toni Brayer MD

Happy Mothers Day to mothers everywhere.  It is an important day for us to honor women and acknowledge the incredible hard work of mothering. There are some places in the world where being a mother is positively life threatening.  The worst place to be a mother is Afghanistan.

Childbirth in Afghanistan is  primeval.  One in 8 women in Afghanistan die during pregnancy or childbirth, more than any place in the world.  Unicef says 52 babies out of every 1,000 die within two weeks of birth and 134 die before their first birthday.  The deaths occur because of obstructed labor, having children too young and vitamin D deficiency from staying indoors and covered up.  Most of the women - 87%- deliver with no skilled help because women cannot leave home without a male and there are  so few midwives to help.  Poverty and illiteracy are dangerous for women.   (folks, read that paragraph again and just think about what it would be like to be pregnant in Afghanistan)

Being a mother in Afghanistan is a true act of courage.

The top place to be a mother is Norway.  Women are well educated and the maternal and infant death rate are the lowest in the world.  Number two is Australia with low child mortality.   Sweden and Iceland are also ranked very high because of their female education and generous maternal and child benefits that allow women to be home with their babies without incurring financial disaster.

In case you are wondering, the United States ranks lowest of all developed countries (#31).  We are equal to Latvia for under 5 mortality and we have the least generous maternity leave policy - both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid.  I think most mothers in the U.S.  could tell you this if you asked! 

But even so, we have it great compared to the mothers of Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where mothers and babies have been brutalized for decades.

Honoring mothers is a wonderful thing.  How much better it would be to really enact changes that support mothers and children around the world.  Increasing education levels for women and girls and providing access to maternal and child health care and advancing women's economic opportunities would be the best mothers day present of all.

Here are some ways you can help support women and mothers.  Happy Mothers Day.

Women for Women International
Kiva Loans
Womans Initiative