A mom in the U.S. wondered about motherhood around the world. Here's what she found out.

How does where you live affect how you're a mom?

Olga Khazan, a writer for The Atlantic and mother from the U.S., got on the phone with other mothers from Egypt, Brazil, Israel, South Africa, Sweden, Slovenia, China, and Haiti to ask them five questions about their lives as moms. Their sometimes surprising answers are captured in the illustrated video below. Here are highlights, along with a little extra background.

1. Maternity leave.

Lots of moms on the calls rattle off the amount of time they were paid to stay at home with their newborns.


This graph shows where the U.S. stands on maternity leave in comparison to much of the rest of the industrial world. The U.S. federal government provides for a minimal amount of time off and NO financial support for new mothers. (A handful of states have passed their own laws requiring that new mothers are paid some percentage of their salaries.) China requires 98 days at 100% pay. But listen to the mom from Beijing on the phone call, and you'll hear that competition in the workplace means a lot of Chinese moms can't really take advantage of that policy.

2. Child care.

In the U.S., almost one-quarter of our kids under the age of 5 spend some time in daycare. And it's spendy! The annual cost of child care for an infant in a child care center is higher than a year's tuition at the average four-year public college in most states.

Mothers in other countries say daycare is expensive for them too. Grandparents, uncles, cousins, and babysitters to the rescue! (And yes, sometimes things do get a bit crowded.)

3. Traditions.

I know a lot of new moms who don't have time to wash their hair — but not being allowed to?! Why does that sound not restful?

In China, many new mothers spend their first month indoors and in pajamas, following a longstanding tradition (at least for wealthier mothers) of laying low to let bodies heal. Washing your hair is one of a number of taboos also shared by women in Latin American countries where the list of forbidden activities for the first month includes sex and spicy food.

4. The hardest thing.

As you might expect, mothers in different places experience different challenges, but certain things resonate around the world. Common ground? Guilt about not spending enough time with kids, feeling overwhelmed, being the "default parent," and the not-so-real notion of "shared work."


Even moms from idyllic, egalitarian Sweden don't rise above these worries.

5. The most important thing.

I loved all of these moms' answers. What a great idea to help connect a global community of mothers!

Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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