Newswise — Philadelphia – Edna Adan Ismail was recently named the inaugural recipient of the Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health. This award and accompanying $100,000 prize will be presented biennially to a leader or leaders in the field of global women’s health. It was established at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in 2012 by the Beatrice Renfield Foundation. “The health and safety of women has far-reaching effects,” said Jean Renfield-Miller, President of the Renfield Foundation. “This award will raise awareness of the issues facing women and girls today and encourage innovative solutions to these problems. By rewarding those at the forefront of this field, we hope to empower female leaders across the globe.”

This year’s recipient, Edna Adan, is a nurse-midwife who has transformed the lives of women in Somaliland and beyond. She was the first Somali girl to be awarded a scholarship to study in Britain. Adan studied nursing, midwifery and nursing management for seven years before returning to Somaliland, where she became the first qualified nurse-midwife in the country. She later married Somaliland’s Prime Minister, Ibrahim Egal, and became the first lady of the country. After the two divorced, Adan joined the World Health Organization (WHO), where for years she advocated for the abolition of harmful traditional practices like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

When Adan retired from the WHO, she sold all of her possessions, and returned to Somaliland to build a hospital. The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital officially opened in 2002. Since the Hospital’s opening, over 14,000 babies have been safely delivered with a maternal mortality rate one-fourth of the national average and more than 300 women have undergone successful fistula repairs.

Adan was nominated for this Award by Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times and co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The book features Adan among its many stories, which serve as a call to action against the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. “Edna Adan has been a passionate leader not only as a hands-on nurse in Somaliland, but also in building a hospital and a training system to produce more nurses and midwives to work in remote areas across her country,” said Kristof. “She has been a tireless force to end female genital cutting in her country. The result is that largely by force of will, Edna is saving lives every day – and putting in place public health systems that will save lives for many decades to come. She’s a force of nature, and it’s a privilege to watch her in action.”

Adan will serve as the final speaker of the HEALTHY CITIES: HEALTHY WOMEN The Global Future conference, where she will receive her award. This symposium will feature experts, practitioners and activists speaking on issues affecting the health of women living in cities worldwide such as trafficking, interpersonal violence, access to healthcare and physical barriers of city spaces. Registration for HEALTHY CITIES: HEALTHY WOMEN starts at $20 per person. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Center for Global Women’s Health at Penn Nursing.

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