By blind good luck, I was born in a country that the UN ranks as the 4th best country in the world in which to be woman. Canada was beaten out only by Iceland, Norway and Australia. I discovered these not so surprising facts from the on-line edition of the Toronto Star, published on March 8th, International Women's Day. The article goes on to list Sudan as being one of the 10 worst places to be a woman, along with Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nepal, Somalia, Mali, Guatemala and Pakistan.
Several years ago, UNICEF published a much-quoted study that found that girls in southern Sudan were more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth (1 in 9) than to finish primary school (1 in 100). This means that one out of every nine southern Sudanese women will die as a result of complications of pregnancy and childbirth. In contrast, the lifetime risk for Canadian women is 1 in 2,800. One in 9 versus one in 2800!
More recently, a Sudan Household Survey (by the MoH/GoS from 2006) estimated the maternal mortality rate in southern Sudan to be over 2,000 per 100,000 live births. This is the highest maternal mortality rate in the world! The medical causes of death are bleeding, infection and obstructed labor. The health system problems are a lack of trained midwifes and little or no access to emergency obstetrical care. On a broader level the culprits are poverty, women's low societal status and the legacies of a prolonged civil war.
So, to the women in Canada: Thank fickle fate for your blind good luck!