Better healthcare and more girls attending school have knocked Afghanistan from its position as the worst place on earth to be a mother, Save the Children said in a major report on Tuesday, but stressed the precarious nature of any gains.
"More mothers are surviving and fewer children are dying and this is something we need to be celebrating," said Rachel Maranto, Advocacy and Mobilisation senior Manager at Save the Children in Kabul.
Afghanistan switched places with Niger in western Africa in Save the Children's 'Mothers' Index', which fell back to bottom place, a spot Afghanistan occupied for the past two years.
This was partly achieved by the number of births attended by trained professionals in Afghanistan rising from 14 percent to 24 percent between 2003 and 2008, and girls in formal education, which has gone from zero in 2001 to 2.5 million today.
Afghan women have won back hard-fought rights in education, voting and work since the five-year austere rule of the Taliban was toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001.
During the rule of the Taliban, women were denied access to general hospitals from 1998 and not allowed out of their homes without a male relative or their husband, meaning their health deteriorated and the child mortality rate shot up.