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Penn Nursing > Media > ICOWHI News 2010 > Mamphela Ramphele

Women's Health: A Litmus Test for Social Well-Being

The future of cities – and the future of humanity – depends on the decisions made now in preparation for urban growth, said South African activist, Mamphela Ramphele, PhD, MD.

Delivering the keynote address at the Phyllis N. Stern Distinguished Lecture and Lunch, she stressed the theme of “nothing about us, without us,” highlighting that women’s faces have been invisible from decision-making and their voices inaudible from policies for too long.

“What’s good for women is good for the global community,” she said. “Higher quality global health and sustainable cities are impossible without first changing the decisions and quality of decisions we make for cities.”

To this end, Dr. Ramphele discussed the need for inclusive, sustainable urban planning that takes into account all constituents. “The poor may not have power,” she said, “but they have the power to disrupt plans that exclude them.”

Dr. Ramphele also examine the effects of women’s health as reflective of global wellness, and emphasized the need for gender equality in cities. “Men and women must work together to address the crisis in their nations,” she said, adding, “only through collective action can we secure our future.”