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The best place in the world to be a mom? Not Canada

If you want to get your mom something really great for Mother's Day, send her to Norway - it's the best place in the world to be a mom.

The Nordic country's low maternal and child mortality rates and high rates of women's life expectancy and years in school earned it top spot on Save the Children's 12th annual Mothers' Index, released on Tuesday.

You could send your mom to Canada, but that's assuming you think she only deserves to live in the 20th best country for moms. That's right, Canada didn't even crack the top 10, a group of countries made up of, in order, Norway, Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands and France.

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Here's how Canada stacked up in several key areas of the report, with Norway's figures added for comparison's sake:

Lifetime risk of maternal death:

Canada: 1 in 5, 600

Norway: 1 in 7, 600

Per cent of women using modern contraception:

Canada: 72

Norway: 82

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Female life expectancy at birth:

Canada: 83

Norway: 83

Expected number of years of formal female schooling:

Canada: 16

Norway: 18

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Maternity leave benefits:

Canada: 17 weeks, 55 per cent of wages paid

Norway: 46-56 weeks, 80-100 per cent of wages paid.

Under 5 mortality rate per 1, 000 births:

Canada: 6

Norway: 3

The worst place for mother? Afghanistan, where the dearth of available maternal and child health services means only 14 per cent of births are attended in the country, compared to Norway where, according to the index, "skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth." As well, women in Afghanistan typically have fewer than five years of education and will not live to be 45.

The annual report, released as always in the days leading up to Mother's Day by the U.S.-based non-profit organization, compared the well-being of mothers and children in 164 countries.

The poor quality of life for women and children in many countries surveyed by the report, such as the fact that children in Somalia face a more than one in six risk of dying before age five, is a call to action, says Save the Children.

"The human despair and lost opportunities represented in these numbers demand mothers everywhere be given the basic tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life for themselves, their children, and for generations to come," the report said.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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