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Urban Disadvantage
The research for the 2015 Save the Children State of the World’s Mothers Report was directed by Middlebury Institute professor Beryl Levinger and alumna Nikki Gillette BAIS ’06 MPA ’07 MBA ’08.

The 2015 Save the Children State of the World’s Mothers Report focuses on the “hidden and often neglected plight of the urban poor.” Its many findings have been featured by media around the world, reminding all of us of the true importance of Mother’s Day.

The report shows progress in reducing child death rates in many countries, but also growing disparities. Topping the list of best countries for mothers are Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden, with the United States in 33rd place. The ranking of countries, along with alarming statistics about cities in the United States that have some of the highest urban infant mortality rates among high-income countries, made for numerous media headlines in recent days. Washington D.C has by far the highest infant mortality rate among the 25 capital cities of wealthy OECD countries.

“The report, with its wide international audience, pinpoints where mothers and their children are especially at risk and what can be done to create a better future for the world’s most vulnerable populations,” says Professor Beryl Levinger, chair of the Institute’s Development, Practice and Policy program, who co-directed the research for the Report along with alumna Nikki Gillette BAIS ’06 MPA ’07 MBA ’08.

“I have worked closely with Beryl on the State of the World's Mothers report for nine years now, first as a research assistant and then as research co-director,” shares Gillette. “I have Beryl to thank for the opportunity to do this good and meaningful work. She is brilliant and I have learned so much from her over the years, both personally and professionally.”

“There is nothing more exciting for me than bridging the worlds of academia, policy research and advocacy,” shares Professor Levinger, adding that for each of the last 15 State of the World’s Mothers reports, MIIS students, alumni, and occasionally faculty have contributed to this research. Working with Gillette and Levinger for the 2015 Report were Professor Fernando De Paolis and student Sophie Dresser MPA ’16.

Dresser says she had a great experience working with Gillette, that she found to be the perfect complement to the immersive learning opportunity she took advantage of with MIIS this January. “During DPMI Rwanda I was able to work with a public health-focused NGO and gain knowledge and insight into maternal child health issues globally, and in Rwanda specifically—skills that I built upon working on the State of the World's Mothers report.”

For More Information

Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir