Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Feel Blessed...

... to be Norwegian. And to have had my baby in Norway - and all that comes with that. Yet again today it was revealed that Norway came out top in a poll on where in the world is the best place to be a mother. It is the organization Save the Children than for the 12th time has listed the best and worst places to have a baby, based on factors like health, education and financial circumstances for mothers and babies in 164 countries.

What surprised me, I must admit, is how bad the USA scored - in fact it turned out, according to this survey, to be one of the worst places to have a baby in the entire industrialized world, which shocked me a little. Factors that dragged the score down were issues like pregnancy mortality - one of the highest in the world. Only three other industrialized countries rate lower in this indicator.

They also have a rather high rate of infant mortality - in fact 8 out of 1000 children in the US die before their 5th birthday - meaning that an American baby has more than double the risk of dying before he or she turns five than a Norwegian child. That is some horrific stats!

Also factoring in, an issue which I knew about, is that in America, women have the shortest and worst paid maternity leave across ALL industrialized countries. Shocking - coming from the country who prides itself on being so modern and forward. God, it makes me feel privileged with my year's fully paid time with my little love! I can be both a mother AND a journalist, I don't have to choose. I am very very lucky.

Several other countries also prides themselves on being a great place to raise a family. Here is the top 10 list:

1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Island
4. Sweden
5. Denmark
6. New Zealand
7. Finland
8. Belgium
9. The Netherlands
10. France

And the ten worst:

155. The Centr. African Republic
156. Sudan
157. Mali
158. Eritrea
159. Congo
160. Chad
161. Jemen
162. Guinea-Bissau
163. Niger
164. Afghanistan

Why did Norway come out top?
Women in Norway generally have a high income. The country has among the lowest rate of infant mortality in the world and the most generous maternity- and paternity leave.

Afghanistan, which came out worst, has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world, and the highest numbers of deaths in women who are either pregnant or in labour. The also have the lowest life expectancy for women in general, and the lowest ratio of midwifes per pregnant woman.

It breaks my heart as a mother to know how lucky I have been and will continue to be, and then to think of all the women in the world who are not as lucky. Be it because being pregnant actually leaves them at a risk of masses of health issues or even death, or the fact that they can have their baby, but it will be a struggle financially or that they will because of a very short maternity leave, never really get to have the time that they should have off to bond with their children.

There seems to be a huge way to go to ensure that women all over the world will be entitled to the same things: A healthy pregnancy. A safe birth. A sufficient health system in place to make sure their babies are well looked after. Paid maternity leave. The ability to chose how you want to divide up your maternity and paternity leave - after all; fathers should also be given the opportunity to get to bond with their young children. Enough time off to learn how to be a mother. The ability to return to your job - you can be a mother and still have a career. Affordable childcare to make it all possible. The list goes on. Women - and sensible men - need to make sure these issues are debated and worked on and that they have a voice. Happier healthier safer mamas makes for happier healthier safer children, which in turn makes for a happier healthier and safer world!

Go make changes!



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