We are #1 – Not!


The United States has held on to 27th place in an index of 158 countries documenting conditions for mothers throughout the world. Mothers’ education, access to health care, and economic status in each country were evaluated because they are the three factors most closely linked to the quality of children’s lives. The underlying data is provided by governments, research institutions, and international agencies.

The top ten nations were Sweden, Norway, Australia, Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Each had a very low rate of maternal mortality, considerable paid maternity leave, high rates of female representation in government, and equaliy in pay between men and women.

Conditions in the United States are very different. More women die of pregnancy-related causes here than all European countries, as well as Canada, Hungary, and Japan. Alone among wealthy nations, the US does not offer any guaranteed paid maternity leave. Only 17% of seats in the US Congress are held by women, giving us less political status than Argentina, Armenia, Guyana and Iraq. And finally, the typical full-time, full year working woman only earns about 3/4 of what a man earns. Mothers on average earn much, much less.

The report was issued by Save the Children, which monitors such conditions every year, because… you simply can’t save children if you don’t empower their mothers.


  • Joannie


    It is cause for concern that there is so far to go in the US for the indicators listed – but being Australian I was amazed to see that we are listed as third?! What does that say about the rest of the world? Only just last week did our government earmark for 2011 the beginnings of a universal paid parental leave scheme for around 18 weeks (all well and good) but we were 1 of only 2 countries in the OECD who didn’t have such as scheme (us and the US). The services after the birth of a child are not good and there is a documented rate of 16% of women who suffer with postnatal depression. And there is a need for substantial changes in the workplace (at least the private sector – our public service is very good) before they could be called family friendly. I believe the UK has had a universal paid parental leave scheme for many years and the Sure Start program also looks very good and yet they didn’t make it into the top ten. Its great that such reports exist but I am keen to look at more of the detail. Thanks for posting it.

    best, Joannie

  • Joannie

    Hello again,

    Talk about links – I just came across a wonderful link of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women considered the theme: “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS” at its 53rd session.

    On this site you can find reports on the conclusions, emerging issues, and video coverage of discussions – amazing and it seems a strong emphasis on sharing care.

    Something I hope to look at from time to time over the coming weeks or months.

    I’ll let you know if/when I come across something spectacular (well encouraging at the least). see:

    best, Joannie

  • Rj

    you simply can’t save children if you don’t empower their mothers. Excellent line. You should make a poster or something. Luv it!

  • Joannie

    Hello again,

    I came across this post today that contradicts the findings of the above mentioned report on mothers.


    Early childhood development report card

    Australia is falling behind most of the developed world when it comes to early childhood development, according to the 10th annual State of the world's mothers report released by Save the Children.

    Download the Executive summary of the State of the World's Mothers report (PDF)

    Download the full State of the World's Mothers report (PDF)

    (GV The report card is worth looking at as it shows Australia is at the back of the pack. The question is do you believe it, especially when it shows that 125% of 3-4 year olds in Flanders are enrolled in preschool?
    Does it take into account the fact that in NSW, for example, a relatively higher proportion of children attend child care within which there is an integrated preschool program – how much does this contribute to the fact that only 42% of 3-4 year olds are enrolled in preschool.
    What if we restricted the age group to 4 year olds?)

    Is it really relevant to the state of mothers to include the levels of children in preschool. So much talk about women as mothers is pitched in terms of the health and welfare of the child (all well and good because this is certainly of critical concern to the mother) but I must say an overemphasis worries me.

    best, Joannie

    Just no time to follow-up with the reports at the moment but something to earmark.