Between 250,000 and 343,000 women and three million newborn babies die each year in pregnancy and childbirth or soon afterwards, the majority of them in Africa and South Asia.

Every minute of every day, somewhere in the world a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. This adds up to more than 10 million over a generation.

99% of maternal deaths occur in the developing world, making maternal mortality the health statistic with the largest disparity between developed and developing countries.

For every woman who dies, at least 20 more suffer complications which leave them with lifelong disability and pain. Most of these deaths, disabilities and long-term illnesses are preventable.

215 million women in the developing world want to delay or avoid pregnancy but do not have access to modern family planning methods.

Increasing access to modern family planning could prevent up to 30 per cent of all maternal deaths and 20 per cent of newborn deaths

The risk of a woman dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth during her lifetime is about one in 30,000 in Sweden, and about one in six In Afghanistan.

Each pregnancy multiplies a woman’s chance of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. One third of deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth could be avoided if all women had access to contraceptive services.

Children who have lost their mothers are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who haven’t.

Globally, the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel increased from 59% to 68% between 1990 and 2009.

In low-income countries, 46% of deliveries had the support of a skilled birth attendant, compared with 58% in lower middle-income countries and 99% in upper middle-income countries.

Worldwide, as many as 50% of pregnancies are unplanned and 25% are unwanted. The unwanted pregnancies are disproportionate among young, unmarried girls who lack access to contraception.

A quarter of all pregnancies end in abortion, and 19 million of those abortions are unsafe, resulting in 68,000 deaths each year and many more women who suffer complications and infections.