The “Save the Children” Federation publishes a report every year on the state of the world’s mothers. The 16th annual report this year focuses on the difficulties faced by the urban population, especially the often-overlooked “urban poor,” in a rapidly urbanizing world.
Many facts have come to light from this report:
- Today, more than half the world’s population live in cities
- One of the worst places to be a mother is an urban slum
- Young children from the poor urban neighborhoods are twice as likely to die than the children from “urban rich” neighborhoods
- The poorest urban mothers and their children are often deprived of lifesaving healthcare.
The report calculates “Mother’s Index” using the following criteria and uses the data to rank 179 countries of the world:
Women’s health, Children’s health, Educational attainment, Economic well-being and Female political participation.
The findings on the basis of Mother’s Index are:
- In maternal health, USA ranks 61st in the world, out of the 179 countries assessed. Overall, the Mother’s Index ranking of the USA is 33rd
- Cities in the United States have some of the highest infant mortality rates among high-income countries; Washington DC has the highest infant mortality among 25 capital cities, the worst performance in a capital city in a developed country
- In West and Central African countries, 1 in 30 women is likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth
- In Asia, 1 in 129 women is likely to die during pregnancy/childbirth
- Conditions for mothers and their children in the countries ranked at the bottom of the chart are devastating
- The largest coverage gap between the richest and the poorest 20% of the urban population was in India, in terms of prenatal care, skilled attendant at childbirth, and measles vaccination for the child; this difference in coverage reflected as stunted growth in children
- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has made the most progress in terms of healthcare for mothers and children, followed by Cairo (Egypt), Manila (Philippines), Kampala (Uganda), Guatemala city (Guatemala), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia), although the cities could still use improvements
- Many European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Israel, Greece, etc., have all ranked higher than the United States in the overall Mother’s Index.
- Worldwide, women hold 15% of Parliamentary seats on an average; in the USA, women’s participation in national government stands at 19.5%.
The report is an eye-opener for organizations around the world. While there appears to have been overall progress, the disparities between the urban rich and the urban poor have grown as well.
The report urges all governments to accelerate action to address problems faced by the urban poor. This, the report states, could be achieved by ensuring reduced newborn deaths, universal health care, making sure nutrition goals are met, developing comprehensive and cross-sectoral urban plans, etc.
Written by Mangala Sarkar Ph.D.
(2015). The Urban Disadvantage: The State of the World’s Mothers 2015. Retrieved from http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/SOWM_2015.PDF