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Are Cities Designed for Women?  
Penn-ICOWHI Conference Examines Urban Women’s Health
March 30, 2010, Volume 56, No. 27

Women comprise more than half the population of the nation’s cities, are three times as likely as their male counterparts to live alone after the age of 65, and are primary caregivers for their families at all ages and stages of life. The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, with the International Congress of Women’s Health Issues, will host Cities and Women’s Health: Global Perspectives, Wednesday, April 7, through Saturday, April 10, on Penn’s campus to examine how urban environments affect their health.

The Penn-ICOWHI conference will bring experts in city planning, health policy, public policy, education, sociology, and others from across the globe together to address how health issues facing women  are exacerbated by city living. This includes environmental pollution, sedentary lifestyles, diminished space and opportunity for exercise, traffic accidents, exposure to stress and violence, and limited access to healthy and fresh foods.

Health scientists will join urban planners to analyze the specific effects that the layouts and design of streets, houses, and transportation systems have on women in cities. For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban environments, and the Penn-ICOWHI 18th Conference will explore redesigning cities for active living, increasing access to health care, treating adolescent girls in high-risk environments, eliminating policy gaps that undermine women’s health, and curbing intimate-partner violence.

Speakers include:

• President Obama’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Health, Melanne Verveer, who will discuss the progress that has been made in women’s health since the United Nation’s 1995 conference on women

• Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, an authority on socioeconomic issues and leader in spearheading projects for disadvantaged persons throughout South Africa.   

• Sheela Patel, founder and director of a Mumbai-based NGO designed to address the needs of “slumdog’s mothers”—women living on pavements and in slums in different parts of India

For more information see www.nursing.upenn.edu/penn-icowhi/Pages/default.aspx.

To view the official Penn-ICOWHI Conference blog, visit http://pennicowhi.wordpress.com/.

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On Wednesday, April 7, a special exhibit, Through Their Eyes, will be on display in the School of Nursing’s Arcadia Cafe. It is based on a  photography and writing project lead by photographer Judy Gelles, at the George Washington Elementary School, in Philadelphia. Using digital cameras, 7th grade boys and girls took pictures of themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods so they could study each others’ photos and learn about the diverse cultures of their fellow students. The group is composed of African American, Hispanic, and Asian students. The students chose their favorite photos, and wrote captions for each shot, explaining why they took that particular photo and what it meant to them. The exhibit is free and open to everyone.

Almanac - March 30, 2010, Volume 56, No. 27