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article imageReport: The joy, hardship and anguish of becoming a mother

By Igor I. Solar     May 7, 2010 in World
In commemoration of Mother’s Day the NGO “Save the Children” released on May 3 the 11th annual issue of the report entitled “State of the World’s Mothers” ranking the best and worst countries to be a mother.
Save de Children( “everyone” they emphasize), is dedicated to promote public awareness of the needs and rights of children worldwide, to coordinate emergency-relief efforts and to protect children from the effects of disasters both natural and man-made. The report compares the well-being of mothers and children in 160 countries around the world. It focuses on the key aspects of sustainable health systems, the female workforce, and the provision of health care at the community level.
Through information gathered in regards to several parameters, the study develops three indexes referring to the status of women and children in developed, developing and least developed countries ("Women's Index" and "Children's Index"). The findings of the study include results, recommendations, tables and the ranking of the countries considered based on what they call the “Mother’s Index”.
The report shows data gathered and statistics for various parameters in connection with women’s education, health, access to sex education, the use of birth control methods, and the economic status of mothers and children, the report shows the major differences on the circumstances faced by mothers and their children from the most affluent through the most destitute societies of the planet. The gaps shown are staggering:
A Norwegian woman now giving birth, most likely choose the timing to become pregnant, she has completed about 18 years of education, and has full command of her sex life through knowledgeable use of birth control methods. After birth, assisted by trained medical personnel, she will enjoy maternal leave of 46 to 56 weeks. She is not likely to see her baby die within the next five years and there is a high probability that she will live in good health at least to age 83.
Mother with tatooed arm and wet child.
Mother with tatooed arm and wet child.
Jason Regan
On the other side of the spectrum, a woman now giving birth in Afghanistan faces a high probability of not having medical assistance during labour and dying of severe complications during or after childbirth. She may have no more than 4 years of schooling and rarely had access to birth control methods. If she and her child survive after delivery, she may see one or more of her children die before age 5, and she herself may not live longer than 44 years.
Himba mother and her child near Opuwo  Namibia.
Himba mother and her child near Opuwo, Namibia.
Hans Hillewaert
These examples roughly describe the happy and the grim facts and statistics of the two countries that are at the top and the bottom of the list. In the five top spots are Norway Australia, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. At the bottom of the ranking are Yemen, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Niger and last, Afghanistan. Canada is in place 20 and the USA, in place 28.
The study identifies poverty, lack of women’s education and an acute shortage of female health care workers, particularly in rural communities, as the main causes for the human drama of motherhood in poor countries. It concludes that in many cases the solution to these big problems are relatively simple and the implementation of simple measures, such as basic training in midwifery, are helping to reduce women and children mortality in several countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bolivia, among others.
Mumbai slum mother holding child. Mother in sari  with several Indian ear piercings and a nose pierc...
Mumbai slum mother holding child. Mother in sari, with several Indian ear piercings and a nose piercing.
Wen-Yan King
The organization calls on world leaders and governments to consider the status of mothers and children in every country:
Investing in this most basic partnership of all – between a mother and her child – is the first and best step in ensuring healthy children, prosperous families and strong communities.
The report wraps up by underscoring that, beyond the numbers and statistics are the true and very real desperation and lost opportunities of mothers and children and the immediate need of obtaining the basic tools that may allow them to break the cycle of poverty and improve their quality of life.
The report’s 14-page Executive Summary is here. Want to read the 52-page report? Click here.
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