Female education and maternal mortality: a worldwide survey

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2006 Nov;28(11):983-990. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)32294-0.


Objective: In terms of social and political development, women's human rights have not evolved in many developing countries to the same extent as they have in the developed world. We examined the relationship between women's status and human development and maternal mortality.

Methods: Using polynomial regression analysis with a sample of 148 countries, we investigated the impact of gender-related predictors, including education, political activity, economic status, and health, and human development predictors, such as infant mortality and Human Development Index, using data from the United Nations Human Development Report 2003.

Results: The Human Development Index and Gender Development Index are powerful predictors of both maternal and infant mortality rates. Female literacy rate and combined enrolment in educational programs are moderate predictors of maternal mortality rates.

Conclusion: Strategic investment to improve quality of life through female education will have the greatest impact on maternal mortality reduction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality / trends
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Mortality / trends*
  • Public Health
  • Women / education*
  • Women / psychology
  • Women's Health*
  • Women's Rights*