Every year, I’m fascinated to see new rankings of all the countries on earth.
Some of these lists tell me where the world’s happiest people live. Some tell me where the best public transport systems are, where the best coffee is, or where I can book the cheapest hotel room. They encourage me to think: where do I want to live, where should I travel and where do I wish I was born?
For me, one of these rankings trumps all others. If I could choose, it would be as simple as this: I’d be born where I would have the best chance to make it to my fifth birthday.
I spent most of my childhood in suburban Melbourne. At my local childcare centre, I learnt English as I spent days climbing over play equipment, scratching my knees on cement, colouring outside the lines and gulping down mugs of frothy chocolate milk.
There was nothing unique or unusual about my childhood. I simply enjoyed the basic rights that every child is entitled to: safety, health, play and education.
But before they take their first breath, the lives of millions of children are shaped forever by their country, community and gender.
Through no choice of their own, children are born into circumstances that will leave them struggling to overcome disease, stay healthy and reach five years old.
We’ve made giant leaps in the last twenty five years. Since 1990, the world has halved both the rate and number of child deaths - and that’s something the global community should be proud of. But severe inequities remain between rich and poor countries. A girl born in Chad today is around thirty times less likely to celebrate her fifth birthday than a girl born in Australia.