Most maternal deaths occur in developing nations. The risks facing pregnant women remain the greatest health divide between rich and poor.
In developed countries the chance of dying in pregnancy is 1 in 8,000. In South Asia, itís 1 in 59. In sub-Saharan Africa, itís 1 in 22.
All told, half a million women die needlessly every year from complications relating to pregnancy Ė most of often at the time of childbirth.
Major medical causes include haemorrhage, eclampsia, unsafe abortion, infection and obstructed labour. But there are other, more subtle factors that influence a womanís chance of survival.
Gender discrimination and lack of education can be just as deadly as medical complications. A woman who is informed about her medical and family planning options, and who has the ability to make her own decisions, is better able to protect her own health, and that of her family.