Afghanistan 'worst place' to be a mother


Afghanistan is the worst place in the world to be a mother raising children and Norway is the best, according to an annual Mothers’ Index.

The 12th annual Save the Children index, which ranks the best and worst places to be a mother, looks at the well-being of women and children in 164 countries. Factors taken into consideration include access to education, healthcare, life expectancy and economic opportunities.

The top ten countries, which include Australia, Iceland, France and New Zealand, attain high scores for mothers’ and children’s health as well as educational and economic status.

Ireland ranks 16th on the list for the well-being of mothers, down from 11th place last year, and comes 29th on the list of the best countries in which to be a child.

The rankings for children's well-being are based on factors including enrolment in pre-school and secondary level education, levels of infant mortality, and equal access to education for both boys and girls.

The report attributes Ireland’s low ranking for well-being in childhood to data suggesting large numbers of children are either failing to start secondary school on time – they are either under or over-aged - or are repeating years.

It says Ireland has the second lowest risk of maternal mortality in the world but underperforms on indicators of economic and political status.

Irish women earn 56 cents for every euro a man earns and hold only 18 per cent of parliamentary seats, placing female political representation in Ireland on par with that in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina

European countries – along with Australia and New Zealand – dominate the top positions while countries in sub-Saharan Africa dominate the bottom of the list.

The United States comes 31st on the list for maternal well-being, having the worst rate in the developed world for the amount of women dying in childbirth or from complications in pregnancy.

A woman in the US is seven times likelier to die from pregnancy-related causes than a woman in Ireland.

Children in the US are also twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday compared to their Irish counterparts. The country is also identified as having the least generous maternity leave of any wealthy nation.

One woman in 11 dies in pregnancy or childbirth in Afghanistan with less than 14 per cent of births attended by a midwife, nurse or doctor. One child in every five dies before reaching their fifth birthday meaning that every mother in Afghanistan is likely to face the loss of a child.

By contrast, skilled health professionals are present at virtually every birth in Norway and only one woman in every 175 will lose a child before their fifth birthday.

According to the report, the quality of children’s lives very much depends on the health, security and well-being of their mothers.

Therefore, it says, providing mothers with access to education, economic opportunities and maternal and child health care gives mothers and their children the best chance to thrive.

It calls on governments and international agencies to increase funding for education for women and girls, increase access to maternal and child health care and advance economic opportunities for women.

Top ten best places to be a mother






New Zealand





Top ten worst places to be a mother






DR Congo




Central African Republic