Based on five indicators related to maternal health, education, income levels and the status of women, Denmark has been ranked fourth in the world in Save the Children's 16th annual Mothers' Index, which rates a total of 179 countries.
Scandinavian countries have consistently taken the top spots in the index, with Norway this year beating Finland, which came first last year. Denmark moved up two spots from last year’s index due to more Danish women surviving childbirth and the length of time that Danish children receive education. Just behind Denmark was Sweden, with the report singling out Stockholm as an example of a city that had managed to reverse extreme inequality.
Somalia was ranked the worst place, just below the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Meanwhile the US dropped to the 33rd spot, while the UK only managed 24th place.
According to the report, a Somali mother is 666 times more likely to die during childbirth than a Danish mother, while a Somali child is 42 times more likely to die before the age of five than a Danish child.
Save the Children said that 17,000 children die every day from causes that could be easily prevented.
“The global society has an obligation to take action on the growing inequality. All children deserve a chance in live – regardless of where on Earth they were born or whether they were born in the city or the country,” Laust Leth Gregersen from Save the Children’s Danish division, Red Barnet, said in a press release.
Denmark scored highly because of its maternal death rates, though those rates are higher in Denmark than the other Nordic countries. While Danish women have a 1 in 12,000 lifetime chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, the odds were even longer in Sweden, Norway and Finland. In Iceland, 1 in 11,500 women is at risk of dying during childbirth or pregnancy.
By contrast American women have a one in 1,800 risk of maternal death, the worst level of risk of any developed country in the world.
Denmark was also well above both the global and industrialized countries’ average when it comes to the percentage of women in parliament and children’s expected number of years of formal schooling.
"The report is made in order to show the huge differences between the rich and the poor, and the differences between Scandinavian countries is usually small," Anders Maxon, media manager for Save The Children, told The Local.
Save the Children also looked at infant mortality rates in the world's 24 wealthiest capitals and noted that while Copenhagen had fewer than three deaths per 1,000, that number was below two in both Oslo and Stockholm. Washington DC had the highest rate at 7.9.
The 10 best countries for mothers and children:
The 10 worst countries for mothers and children:
169. Haiti* and Sierra Leone*
173. Côte d’Ivoire
177. Central African Republic
178. DR Congo