Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Save the Children Women on the Front Line of Health Care

I've been looking at the Save The Children report on Women on the Front Line of Health Care and State of the World's Mothers 2010 index.

This was reported on the SMH/The Age and has accumulated the usual comments (childfree people don't want to pay for the other's personal choice to have children - some people just jump to their mother/children hating pet sprays at any opportunity). Sadly, the paper could have focussed on serious health problems in developing countries, but turned it into a story on Australian mums having it good.

About the report:

Every year nearly 9 million newborn babies and young children die before reaching the age of 5. Nearly 350,000 women die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. The report looks at the role played by female heath workers in addressing the problems. The Mothers' Index ranks mothers from 160 countries, looking at factors such as education, political participation, health and nutrition.

The newspaper states that Australia is ranked second in the world. This seems hard to believe considering we don't have maternity leave, our problems with health care, workplace inflexibility etc.

What is interesting in the comments, for me, are the reports from other countries. Some examples:

an expat that is currently residing in Switzerland I am astounded at the support from the government and the employer Suisse women recieve (no dismissal, 14 weeks paid leave minimum, a ruling that makes it illegal for a woman to return to work for a minimum of 6 weeks after having a child, the school system, public transport, family focus... A woman cannot be dismissed... AND the employer must come to an arrangment for her return to work?). I LOL reading this, what a JOKE - whomever did this study is insane clearly.
I dont believe mothers or family are a priority in Australia, and it saddens me to see this sort of reporting. There is no equillibrium for Women in Australia in comparisson to their European counterparts. It just seems that as an island nation - so far flung, the government think it is ok to bandaid issues, and never address or spend the money on laws and support to allow women to be mothers and families to live under less pressure. Children in this country are safe, there is no crime, no hooliganism, parents meet them after school and spend quality DAILY time with them. Parks here are full of parents and children all the time.. our parks are empty - parents too busy at work, children in front of the computer.. oh and parks closed due to public liability issues from Councils - wake up Australian Government .. Get with the program - though we are a few hundred years in development behind Europe... it IS 2010.... If I had my way, I'd never return to Australia, beaches.. tsk... there are beaches in Europe too, but what do I have here and not there? PRO FAMILY & MOTHER laws and departments.
NICB | Switzerland - May 04, 2010, 8:57PM

Did I mention also that daycare costs next to nothing here in Sweden? It's a different attitude here to families and the responsibilty of society.
btw, one would never get away with calling it maternity leave here, it's parental leave, and both parents share the work (not always equally but it is shared), but that's a whole other topic.
Australian Mum in Sweden - May 04, 2010, 8:21PM

How can other Australian mums have it better than me? I am an Australian currently living in Sweden. My husband and I get over a year combined paid maternity leave for each child we have (2) and we are allowed to use that year any time up until our kids are 8 years old. My husband took 6 months off paid full time leave last year to look after our second daughter. From the government he got 80% of his salary, but his employer bumped that up to 90% which his company does to make sure all the dads take leave too!! After 6 months he still had a whole lot of days left so now he doesn't work on Fridays and is home with both our daughters indefinitely. We can take our leave at any time, as long as you give your employer 3 months notice they can not say no, you can use that leave whenever you like. If you save your days up you can suddenly tell your employer that you are going on a family holiday to Thailand for a few months when the kids are older, we know people who have done that. After you have had a kid you have the right to work part time, no employer can stop you. We are planning a third child, and are thinking about leaving our rental flat and spending a whole year in Australia with the parental leave money, we can use our leave together and be off work and spend a year together. Insane!! The down side is you are taxed up to you eyeballs here to pay for it all. So worth it now during the early chldhood years, but you keep paying dearly for it for the rest of your life.
Australian Mum in Sweden - May 04, 2010, 7:00PM

I have experinced both life as a mother to babies and young kids in Australia and in Sweden - one extreme to another. I can see why people complain in Australia now that we are living the good life here. What a difference! For what we paid for two days of childcare in Australia we get one month here. Paid leave means precious family time without financial worry. We have even travelled in Spain and Italy with our paternity & maternity money. It's perfect being away from the everday chores so you can really just concentrate on your family. When people here in Sweden hear that Australia has no paid leave and what childcare costs they can't believe it. I wonder how the childless people here feel about footing the bill for all this luxury? I've never heard any complaints. Every dad I know, even my husband's back in the 70's, has been on paternity leave. Studies show, not surprisingly, that leads to Fathers being more hands-on after their leave is over. Longer paternity leave also equals lower divorce rate. The way we use our leave is also completely up to us, for example you can go straight back to work if you want but maybe only work a a couple of days a week for years to come rather than taking all your leave at once. It's family heaven.
Australian Mum in Sweden | Sweden - May 05, 2010, 10:00AM

Shows the contrast between best practice and worst practice.

As a wealthy country, why can't we implement best practice here and all the assistance we can to developing nations to promote best outcomes for mothers and children?

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