The United Nations recently released its 2012 Gender Chart, one part of its annual Millennium Development Goals Report, which specifically tracks gender-related statistics around the world. There's a ton of interesting information in the report, but one graph really stood out: the rise of women who receive skilled assistance from a hospital, doctor or trained midwife when giving birth.
The graph compares percentage of women receiving skilled assistance during childbirth in different regions in the 1990s versus the 2000s, separated by rural poor and urban rich in those areas. Around the world, the percentages have gone up, but they're still a mere fraction in rural areas of what they are in urban areas.
Skilled assistance during birth results in drastically lower maternal mortality rates. According to the report, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where access to assistance is lowest, together accounted for 85 percent of maternal mortality worldwide. That being said, the situation is improving dramatically. Maternal deaths worldwide in 2010 were down to nearly half — 47 percent — of what they were in 1990.
You can check out the whole report here.