For every mother come challenges in ensuring a child’s health, safety and happiness. While some mothers have the time and resources to that allow them to provide for their children far beyond the basics, for many of the world’s mothers, the single greatest challenge they face is making sure they and their children receive adequate nutrition for survival.
In their 13th annual State of the World’s Mothers report, Save the Children has drawn together a compelling picture of the circumstances — good and bad — that mothers and children face around the world. It’s disheartening to see the evidence that malnutrition is the current reality for a large number of mothers and children, with 1 in 4 children in the world chronically malnourished. However, the report lays out the fact that there are simple, proven, cost-effective solutions for combating malnutrition (e.g., prenatal supplements, breast milk as the sole food source for a child’s first six months). The authors share the stories from mothers who have learned ways to better care for themselves and their children and health workers who have been immersed in the communities.
Much of Save the Children’s attention is focused on issues in the developing world where need is the most dire, but there’s still work to be done to improve the lives of mothers and children in industrialized countries. The report also explores issues of maternal and infant well-being in these countries, particularly looking at which provide the most supportive environments for mothers to breastfeed. Of the 30 countries included in the Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard, the United States is currently ranked last, in no small part because of a lack of paid leave and a lack of “baby friendly” hospitals.
But there’s more to motherhood than nutrition. Save the Children takes the time to look at the bigger picture in order to create the Complete Mothers’ Index, ranking 165 countries according to women’s educational, health and economic outcomes, political participation, and children’s health and educational outcomes. Based on these criteria, Northern Europe takes the lead as the best place to be a mother with Norway, Iceland, and Sweden holding the top three spots on the list. The United States comes in at 25th.
Want to take a quick glance at what makes the best places for motherhood so good, but don’t have time to read the full report?
The Huffington Post has put together a slideshow of the top 30 countries, noting an important factor taken into account when determining each country’s rank.