Finland and other Nordic countries have swept the top spots in a ranking of best countries for mothers.Finland has been ranked as the world's best country for mothers for the second consecutive year by Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), in its annual State of the World's Mothers report. This year, the index assessed the health, educational, economic and political status of mothers and children in a total of 178 countries.

Although Finland performed well across indicators, it did not rank first in any of them.

The toughest place for mothers according to Save the Children is Somalia.

Behind Finland, Norway was ranked as the second best and Sweden as the third best country for mothers. Other Nordic countries similarly fared well, Iceland ranking fourth and Denmark sixth, also behind the Netherlands.

The index assessed the risk of 15-year-old women to die of pregnancy-related complications, the mortality rate for under 5-year-old children, the expected number of years children spend in formal schooling, the gross national income per capita, and the participation of women in parliamentary decision-making.

The participation of women in parliamentary work, the NGO argues, improves the likelihood that issues significant to women and children are taken into consideration in decision-making.

Overall, stable and affluent countries were the best and countries ravaged by political crises and natural disasters the toughest places for mothers and children. “Mothers and children are more likely to die in natural disasters than men. In conflicts, they die in greater numbers than fighters,” highlights Hanna Markkula-Kivisilta, the secretary general of Save the Children Finland.

This year, the State of the World's Mothers report focused particularly on the women and children who live in communities beset by conflicts and natural disasters. “The goal is that mothers and children would survive regardless of where they were born,” Markkula-Kivisilta says.

“It has been shown in several countries that we can save mothers and children despite the effects of humanitarian crises,” she adds, referring to Afghanistan and Ethiopia as examples.

Päivi Repo – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva