The photo is a hand mirror that I gave my mother last year on Mother’s Day. This is Japanese lacquer with gold and silver work. It took half a year to make it, since I was working for a bank.
On Mother’s Day, a world wide NGO Save the Children reports Mothers’ Index every year. This index shows the rank of the countries according to various factors such as 1. death rate of women in childbirth, 2. usage of modern birth control, 3. female’s longevity, education, wage compared with male, participation in politics (country level), 4. death rate of children, 5. rate of children under bad nutrition, 6. maternity and childcare leave, 7. safe water supply, etc.
The best country to be a mother is Sweden, Australia is 6th and Japan is 31st. In Japanese case, Children’s index is relatively high (6th), death rate of women in childbirth is lowest (1 out of 11,600) and women live longest in the world. However, overall females’ index is so low (36th), so mothers’ index becomes also low.
The worst country is Niger. Women receive education for 3 years on average, 4% of women use modern birth control, 1 out of 4 children cannot have 5th birthday. This death rate means nearly every mother in Niger experiences child’s death, since they have 8 childbirth on average. In Afghanistan 1 out of 8 woman dies because of pregnancy or childbirth.
Welfare of vulnerable people such as pregnant women, mother and children (and of course older people, disabled people and ethnic minorities) are really the barometer of how the countries are politically, economically and socially. Since the various risks and burden have to be borne by women and children, it is very easy that their priority is decreased, especially when the dominant policy makers are men.
A lot of women and children suffer on earth. Just one horrifying example – I recommend reading “Burned Alive“, a true story of an unmarried pregnant girl literally burned alive. This may be an extreme example but there are similar cases and smaller versions of this happening everywhere right at this moment. The root is all the same – male centered bias, undervaluing life and complete lack of compassion.