State of the World's Mothers, 2009

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Save the Children's annual Mothers’ Index

Timezones of the World

Related Links


Save the Children's ninth annual Mothers’ Index helps document conditions for mothers and children in 125 countries—26 developed nations and 99 in the developing world—and shows where mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships. The Mothers' Index relies on information published by governments, research institutions, and international agencies. The 10 bottom-ranked countries in this year's Mothers’ Index are reverse images of the top 10, performing poorly on all indicators. Conditions for mothers and their children in these countries are devastating.

Highest Ranking Country Lowest Ranking Country
1. Sweden 149. Djibouti
2. Norway 150. Eritrea
3. Australia 151. Angola
4. Iceland 152. Sudan
5. Denmark 153. Yemen
6. New Zealand 154. DR Congo
7. Finland 155. Guinea-Bissau
8. Ireland 156. Chad
9. Germany 157. Sierra Leone
10. Netherlands 158. Niger

The six indicators of women's well-being are:

  • Lifetime risk of maternal mortality
  • Percent of women using modern contraception
  • Percent of births attended by skilled personnel
  • Percent of pregnant women with anemia
  • Adult female literacy rate
  • Participation of women in national government

The four indicators of children's well-being are:

  • Infant mortality rate
  • Gross primary enrollment ratio
  • Percent of population with access to safe water
  • Percent of children under age 5 suffering from moderate or severe nutritional wasting

Scandinavian countries "sweep" the top positions while countries in sub-Saharan Africa dominate the lowest tier. While industrialized countries cluster tightly at the top of the Index—with the majority of these countries performing well on all indicators—the highest-ranking countries attain very high scores for mother's and children's health and educational status. The United States places 10th this year—tied with the United Kingdom.

For more information, see The Full Report: State of the World's Mothers (PDF)

More from Mother's Day
Sources +