On May 15, during Alumni Weekend, Penn Nursing will present the inaugural Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health to Edna Adan Ismail, Founder and Administrator of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Somaliland.
A visionary gift from a longtime supporter established the award, designed to raise awareness of global women's health issues by honoring a demonstrated leader in improving the lives of women. The Nursing School’s first international award, the Renfield Foundation Award is also its highest honor in global innovation for the health of women and girls.
The gift creating this award builds upon the Renfield family’s ties with Penn Nursing. The late Beatrice Renfield devoted years of service and resources as an advocate for the nursing profession. Her sister, Jean Renfield-Miller, PAR’15, president of the Beatrice Renfield Foundation, has continued this legacy of support through the Foundation’s longstanding partnership with Penn’s School of Nursing, including gifts to the Urban Women’s Health initiative and the recently established Center for Global Women’s Health. In 2012, a new commitment from the Beatrice Renfield Foundation established the Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health.
“We hope that this award raises awareness of the health issues women and girls face today and encourages innovative solutions to these problems,” said Renfield-Miller. “By rewarding those at the forefront of this field, we hope to empower female leaders across the globe.”
“Penn’s leadership brings us closer to improving the well-being of girls and women throughout the world, which will afford them greater opportunities for education, for making better decisions for themselves and their families, and for becoming leaders within their own communities and beyond.” --Jean Renfield-Miller
The Renfield Foundation Award is presented biennially to individuals who have demonstrated leadership in improving the health of women by advocating for new policies or programs, by forging innovative solutions to the issues impacting the lives and health of women and girls, or by empowering women to lead their institutions, communities, and nations as well as their homes.
“It is critical that eminent institutions like Penn put their expertise behind the search for solutions to women’s global issues because the health and safety of women has far-reaching effects,” Renfield-Miller says. “Penn’s leadership brings us closer to improving the well-being of girls and women throughout the world, which will afford them greater opportunities for education, for making better decisions for themselves and their families, and for becoming leaders within their own communities and beyond.”
An inspiring advocate for women and girls, Adan was the first Somali girl to be awarded a scholarship to study in Britain. She studied nursing, midwifery, and nursing management for seven years before returning to Somaliland, where she became the first qualified nurse-midwife in the country and the first Somali woman to drive a car.
After being forced to leave Somaliland because of the Somali Civil War, Adan joined the World Health Organization (WHO), where she advocated for the abolition of harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation (FGM). Upon her WHO retirement, Adan returned to Somaliland to build a hospital. The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital officially opened in 2012, and has become an oasis of healing and care for the country's women, dedicated to training and dispatching fully qualified health-professionals and midwives, as well as to Adan’s mission to fight the practice of FGM.
Find out more about Adan on Penn Nursing’s website.