Maternal Mortality, Early Marriage, & Gender Violence – Tracking Women’s Health & Wellbeing On A Global Scale

Women make up more than half of the world’s population, but improving their lives and lengthening their lifespan isn’t always the priority of governments around the world. In fact, there is plenty of evidence, facts and figures if you will, that point out to the great disparities that can be seen and felt across the world. 

The general notion that women live longer than men holds true, however, when it comes to life expectancy, the bottom thirty countries are in Africa. The United States ranks 38th on this global chart with an average of 81.1 years of a woman’s life expectancy from birth; Japan tops the chart with the highest of 87.2 years. 

Maternal mortality? The stats reveal some shockingly high maternal mortality rates, and again it is African countries that are taking the bottom of the chart. Sierra Leone is doing worse, with a rate of 1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births. It is safest to become a mother in Europe, where Finland, Iceland, Poland and Greece lead with 3 deaths per 100,000 live births. Kuwait is the only country in the top 10 outside Europe. 

Another aspect which profoundly affects a woman’s health and well-being is violence. At least 20% of Russian women have been subjected to violence, the stats reveal. In the U.K. this figure climbs to 29% of women and at 32% Denmark and Latvia are having the highest in Europe. But head to Angola in Africa, the percentage is a whopping 78%. That is from what we know about the state of violence against women. Data is unavailable for more than half of the world’s countries which speaks volumes how under-treated the problem of violence against women around the world is. 

Early marriage rates ponder on the percentage of women who have married in between 15 and 19 years of age. Many European countries are keeping this rate at a safe 0%, but there are other countries such as Niger or Maldives which have rates over 50% and where it seems early marriage is an almost fully-established practice.  

Last but not least, the infographic reveals the women’s suicide rates around the world. While suicide fortunately is uncommon in some countries, the rates are worrisome in others. With a rate of 14.5 suicides per 100,000 women, India leads this notorious list in Asia while South Korea follows up with 11.6 per 100,000. Belgium hits highest in Europe at 9.4 per 100,000. 

There is great complexity to each aspect of a woman’s health as reported in this infographic. Culture, tradition and resources may be playing their part in some societies where for instance the idea of family planning is far-flung or where there is a serious shortage of health facilities for women who are carrying a baby. 

Hopefully, the stats are an eye-opener for many, and asking the right question is key. What can be done in those countries that have dramatically bad figures? What we can learn from countries that are doing their best to decrease and eradicate negative trends related to women’s lives and their wellbeing? Take a look at the infographic below created by, using data from the World Bank:

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