Cristen Conger

The Mom-Friendliest Country in the World

The nonprofit group Save the Children recently released its 11th annual Mothers' Index of 160 countries, and the United States doesn't even hold a slot in the top 10. Instead, the U.S. comes in at 28 on the list, which is based on national resources and services that support mothers and their children on all rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.

Norway, Australia and Iceland round out the top three, while Afghanistan ranked last. The report's executive summary encapsulates the healthcare and educational gulf between mothers in Norway and Afghanistan:

Skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Norway, while only 14 percent of births are attended in Afghanistan. A typical Norwegian woman has more than 18 years of formal education and will live to be 83 years old. Eighty-two percent are using some modern method of contraception, and only 1 in 132 will lose a child before his or her fifth birthday. At the opposite end of the spectrum, in Afghanistan, a typical woman has just over 4 years of education and will live to be only 44. Sixteen percent of women are using modern contraception, and more than 1 child in 4 dies before his or her fifth birthday. At this rate, every mother in Afghanistan is likely to suffer the loss of a child.

It also provides a detailed breakdown of the health, economic, educational and political status of women. Among those stats, the U.S. is glaringly deficient in its maternity leave benefits; mothers receive a paltry 12 weeks, less time than all the other 44 more developed countries included in the study. Maternity leave in Norway? At least 46 to 56 weeks with 80 to 100 percent of paid wages.

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