Save the Children, an international humanitarian organisation, recently released a report comparing the living conditions of mothers and children in countries around the world. Some of the best conditions for mothers are Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Denmark. Among the worst are Niger, Chad, Yemen and Sierra Leone.
The study compared living conditions in 146 countries and found striking disparities. In Niger, for example, 25 per cent of children do not live to age five. Only a third of births are attended by someone with medical training. The average girl in Niger has just three years of formal education.
In contrast, the average woman in Sweden lives to the age of 83 and acquires 17 years of formal education. More than 70 per cent of mothers in Sweden use contraception, compared to just 4 per cent in Niger, meaning mothers in Niger are less able to choose when they have children, or how many.
Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Djibouti, Mali and Ethiopia were also among those ranked the lowest in the study. In these countries, approximately one in 21 mothers dies from pregnancy-related causes and a third of children are malnourished.
Save the Children recommends that these countries train more healthcare workers and improve access to birth control for mothers. They also recommend educating more girls and young women, something that many studies have shown leads to improved conditions in the family.