Norway is the best place on earth to be a mom, says Save the Children, in a recent State of the World’s Mothers report. Norwegian moms receive a full year of paid leave and have only a 1 in 175 chance of losing a child before the age of five.
Last on the list is Afghanistan. Afghan women have a life expectancy of 45 years and one of every 11 women die in childbirth. One of every five children in the country does not live to age five.I founded All Girls Allowed (AGA), an organization dedicated to restoring value and dignity to girls and mothers in China, in June 2010.
We believe that the Save the Children report includes important statistics about mortality rates, but leaves out key criteria, like shame and pressure to bear sons.
This year, China ranked 18th on the Less Developed Countries List, ahead of the UAE and South Africa. Female infanticide is exacerbated by the One-Child Policy, but China is not the only country with a son-preference that pressures mothers of daughters to the point of despair. Worst case scenarios from India are too common, with daughters ripped away at birth as “worthless things”, disposed of before mothers can say goodbye.
This national gendercide of girls deeply affects mothers.Current gender ratios in China are telling: 120 boys for every 100 girls-parents are choosing to eliminate girls to make room for boys.
A video on All Girls Allowed’s homepage depicts the tale of “Li”, a mother pregnant with her third child. The family had decided to disobey the country’s One-Child Policy to try once more for a boy. When Li discovered she would bear another girl, her in-laws demanded that she abort and sent her away when she refused.
Li spent many weeks in hiding from family planning officials and her own community. Tears run down her face in the video as she explains this abandonment and the pain of choosing to keep her daughter that no one else loves.
China is not the 18th “best” less developed country for moms-only for mothers of boys. For many mothers of girls, every day is a struggle. We believe that every mother in China should be honored, whether or not she bears a son. AGA delivers financial stipends to mothers of baby girls in impoverished rural areas of China. This has brought dignity to mothers who had lost all hope.