Finland still the world's best country for mothers

9.5.2014 7.40
News item N5-64555
Finland is the best country in the world for mothers. For the second year running, this is the conclusion of the report published by the international Save the Children organisation. In this global comparison, it is politically stable and wealthy countries that rank highest. The area in which mothers fare the worst is sub-Saharan Africa, where natural disasters and various conflicts make life more difficult, in particular for women and children.

On the 9th of May, we celebrate the Europe Day, a day of peace and unity. European countries rank highly in the "State of the World's Mothers 2014" report. The report looks at mothers' and children's state of health and risk of untimely death, the economic situation of the country and the political position of women.

To begin with, however, we should not lose sight of the indicators selected for the index. While they are apt in a global context, they do not describe wellbeing in a wider sense. Many of the issues covered are basic preconditions, including the maternal death rate and mortality of children under 5. They are the foundation on which actual positive wellbeing can be built.

In this comparison of 178 countries, the Nordic countries ranked highest. Many factors contributed to Finland's number one position in the mothers' index. One of them is a low maternal and child mortality rate, a contributing factor to which is a good health care system that looks after mothers from the start of the pregnancy and provides child health clinic services for their children.

The Finnish child health clinic system is a universal service that all Finnish families use regardless of their social status. The clinics also provide assistance for families in need of particular support. When the municipal child health clinic system was first inaugurated in the 1940s, maternal and child mortality rates were high. In that era, attention was paid not only to the care and nutrition of children but also the entire field of hygiene at home.

Originally, mothers were attracted to health clinic services by creating a maternity package that each mother was entitled to once she had contacted the clinic at a certain stage of her pregnancy, and this made it possible to improve the state of health of mothers and children. The maternity package has not lost its popularity among mothers in today's wealthier society.

Another vital factor in successful mothering is education. Finnish women are well educated and they enjoy a relatively high standard of pay, even if it is lower than that of men.

We must also remember that Finland or the other Nordic countries have not been afflicted by war or natural disasters for many years. Finland also has effective support systems in place that contribute to improving the mothers' position, including the child benefit system, home care support and such other family benefits as parental leave. The possibility of taking maternity leave before and after the child is born is also vital for the mother's welfare.

In Finland, the whole family is involved in ensuring the wellbeing of the mother and the child. Fathers increasingly attend the maternity and child health clinics and are present when their children are born. As the "State of the World's Mothers" report shows, wellbeing is the sum total of many aspects, for which peace and unity lay a strong foundation. Have a good Europe Day!

Further information:

Ministerial adviser Maire Kolimaa, tel. +358 2951 63389
Ministerial adviser Marjaana Pelkonen tel. +358 2951 63331

Reference: State of the World's Mothers 2014