Singapore is the best place in Asia to be a mother, according to a report released on Monday by London-based charity Save The Children to mark Mother's Day. Finland, Norway and Sweden took the top three positions in the overall ranking.
We take a close look at the report, and how countries fared:
What is the report about?
London-based charity Save the Children first published the Mothers' Index in 2000 to document conditions of mothers across the world. In its 15th year, the latest report looks at the well-being of mothers and children in 178 countries - 46 developed nations and 132 in the developing world.
How were countries ranked?
The index relied on information published by authoritative international data agencies. Countries are ranked based on a composite score of the following five indicators:
a. Maternal health: It refers to the conditions under which a mother gives birth as well as her own health and nutritional status.
b. Children’s well-being: It uses the Under-5 mortality rate which is a leading indicator of a child's well-being.
c. Educational status: It refers to the expected years of formal schooling.
d. Economic status: It uses gross national income per capita to gauge a mother's access to economic resources and hence her ability to provide for her children.
e. Political status: It refers to women's participation in national government. When women have a voice in politics, issues that are important to mothers and their children are more likely to surface on the national agenda.
Consistently strong performance across the indicators yields a higher ranking than exceptional performance on a few and somewhat lower performance on the others. This explains why the United States ranks 31st on this year's index even though it performs well on economic and education status (8th and 14th in the world, respectively) - it lags behind top-ranked countries in the other indicators.
What are the highlights of this year's report?
- Europe continues to dominate the top 10 list, with Finland, Norway and Sweden taking the top three positions.
- Countries in sub-Saharan Africa - many of which have a recent history of armed conflict - fill the lowest ranks, with Somalia taking the last position.
- The greatest disparity across regions is found in the lifetime risk of maternal death. In West and Central Africa, 1 woman in 32 is likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth. This is nearly five times the risk facing women in South Asia (1 in 150) and almost 150 times the risk faced by those in industralised nations (1 in 4,700).
- Children in West and Central Africa also face greater risk of death. Almost 1 in 8 does not live to see his or her 5th birthday - twice the risk faced by their peers in South Asia, and 20 times the risk faced by those in the more developed countries.