Earlier this week, Save the Children released its annual State of the World’s Mothers 2011 report of the best and worst places to be a mother. There are 164 countries on the list; ranked best to worst, the U.S. is number 31.
In general, and perhaps not surprisingly, mothers and children in industrialized nations do pretty well with regard to access to healthcare and education; mothers and children in the poorest nations have a much more grim experience: one child in six will die before age 5; one child in three is malnourished; 90% of these mothers will lose a child in their lifetime. Here in the U.S., women have a 1 in 2,100 risk of dying in childbirth while in Poland, the risk is only 1 in 13,000; and 8 out of every 1,000 children in this country will not live long enough to blow out 5 birthday candles.
My initial reaction is disappointment and more than a little hand-wringing. How did is it that we — as mothers, and our children — fare so poorly in general? What do these numbers say about the value of mothers and children in society? Granted, compared with some countries, we in the U.S. are a lot better off than many, but still — it’s very clear that there are strides to be made in maternal and infant mortality rates and other benchmark statistics like education and healthcare, both here at home and around the world.
But you know what? Instead of feeling anguished about it, imaging maternal suffering and lost futures, we could seize this opportunity to use this information as a tool for change.
Read the report. If you believe things need to change, talk about it with friends and fellow moms. Blog about it. Get in touch with your congressional representative and ask what he or she is doing to support the health and wellness of mothers and children in this country. Consider getting involved and supporting non-governmental organizations that work to improve access to healthcare, education and economic opportunity for mothers and their children. If we want to see something different, we need to start saying something different and doing something different.
Mother’s Day is nearly here; let’s make it Mothers’ Day this year and put our energy into efforts to ensure real, meaningful support for mothers and children, no matter where they live.
Photo credit ecerroni