Just in time for Mother’s Day, Save the Children released its 15th annual State of the World’s Mothers report this week revealing the best and most difficult places to be a mother. This year’s report focuses on saving the millions of mothers, newborns and children living in fragile communities due to conflict and natural disasters, and their everyday struggle to survive.
Being a mother is a tough job. I can attest. But imagine what it is like being a mother in a war-torn country or in a place that has been struck by a natural disaster. Caring for your family becomes a daily race for survival. It is something that no parent should have to imagine. I applaud Save the Children for their amazing work and dedication to saving the mothers and children of our planet. These are the voiceless. It is time to give them a voice.
Following is a summary of the highlights in the report and five key urgent actions required to help save mothers and children around the globe. All information below is taken directly from Save the Children’s 2014 State of World’s Mothers report.
2013 proved to be a challenging year for mothers and children faced with an extraordinary amount of humanitarian crises. Sudan, Syria, The DRC and the Philippines have all experienced severe hardship while even here in the United States families have been displaced and children threatened after the Oklahoma tornadoes and dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The 2014 State of World’s Mothers Report documents the progress we’ve made as well as the critical steps that must be taken to ensure that all moms and children are safe.
Mothers and Children in Crisis: Vital Statistics
- More than 250 million children under age 5 live in countries affected by armed conflict.
- For every person killed directly by armed violence, between 3 and 15 die indirectly from diseases, medical complications and malnutrition.
- On average, countries in conflict have less than half the minimum number of recommended health workers.
- More than 80 percent of the high-mortality countries unlikely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for mothers’ and children’s survival have suffered a recent conflict or recurring natural disasters or both.
- The poorest people suffer most from natural disasters – 95 percent of disaster fatalities occur in developing countries.
- 56 percent of maternal and child deaths take place in fragile settings.
- Worldwide, women and children are up to 14 times more likely than men to die in a disaster.
- The average refugee situation lasts 17 years.
The State of World’s Mothers Report also includes a Mothers’ Index, a highly valuable international tool that illustrates where women fare in each country. The Mothers’ Index scores and ranks countries based on mothers’ and children’s health, educational, economic and political status. This year, Finland tops the 2014 Mothers’ Index as the best place to be a mom, while Somalia is at the bottom of the list mainly due to armed conflict. The US which was ranked in the top five 15 years ago, has alarmingly fallen to number 31 out of 178 countries.
Fact: More than 60 million women and children are in need of humanitarian assistance this year.
“Nothing will stop a mother from trying to keep her children safe and protected,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, “But when disaster strikes, whether it’s a war in Syria, a tornado in Oklahoma or a typhoon in the Philippines, women and children are often at the greatest risk – up to 14 times more likely to die than men. Fortunately, our evidence also shows we can save and dramatically improve the lives of mothers and children, even in the most challenging places to live, if we invest in the services they need.”
Fact: Violence and conflict have uprooted more families than at any time on record. By the end of 2012, more than 45 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced due to conflict or persecution. In addition, natural disasters, which can be especially deadly in the world’s poorest communities, displaced more than 32 million in 2012.
“We must demand humanitarian access in conflict areas, so mothers and children can receive adequate food and health care,” said Miles. “We also need to promote family preparedness programs in disaster-prone areas, and ensure recovery efforts focus on the special needs of children. While we celebrate the mothers in our lives this week, we should also advocate for those who are in urgent need.”
Each day, an estimated 800 mothers and 18,000 young children die from largely preventable causes. Over half of these maternal and under-5 deaths take place in fragile settings, which are at high risk of conflict and are particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters. – Save the Children 2014 State of World’s Mothers Report
The report also highlights two critical conflict areas of the world that are significantly endangering woman and children:
- Civil war in Democratic Republic of the Congo has led to horrific abuses against women and children, and directly and indirectly claimed more than 5.4 million lives. But less than 10 percent of these deaths have occurred in combat, and mortality rates in areas of the DR Congo outside conflict zones are often as high as in the conflict-affected eastern provinces. Most deaths in the DR Congo have been due to preventable or treatable causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, newborn causes and malnutrition – and almost half the country’s death toll has been children under age 5 .
- Syria’s civil war – now in its fourth year – has had a devastating impact on mothers and children. Almost 1.4 million children and 690,000 women have fled the conflict and become refugees in neighboring countries, while over 9 million people inside Syria are in need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance. Estimates suggest as many as 1,000 women and children a month have been killed in the conflict.
Source: Save the Children 2014 State of World Mothers Report, page 6
The State of World’s Mothers Report continues to highlight the tragic fact that it matters where you live and where you are born for your likelihood to survive. There remains huge inequities. For example, In Somalia, one woman in 16 is likely to die of a maternal cause during her lifetime, while one child in seven does not reach his fifth birthday. This contrasts with Finland, where maternal deaths affect less than one in 12,000 women, and the probability of a child dying before the age of five is one in 345.
The 2014 State of World’s Mothers Report recommends Five Key Interactions:
- Ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care.
- Invest in women and girls and ensure their protection.
- Build longer term resilience to minimize the damaging effects of crises on health.
- Design emergency interventions with a longer term view and the specific needs of mothers and newborns in mind.
- Ensure political engagement and adequate financing, coordination and research around maternal and newborn health in crisis settings.
To read the Executive Summary of the report, click here.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protect from harm. We invest in childhood– every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow Save the Children on Twitter and Facebook.
All the information above is found in Save the Children’s 2014 State of World’s Mothers Report. To read the report in full click here.