The Bartlett


Bartlett study a key influence on research into urban women’s health

10 October 2013

© Julio Dávila

The research approach of the UCL Lancet Commission on Healthy Cities has inspired the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing to begin an investigation into new ways of addressing women’s health from an urban perspective.

Professor Afaf Meleis, Dean of the School of Nursing expressed her desire to reflect on the Commission’s cross-disciplinary approach, by securing the perspectives of researchers specialising in architecture and urban studies to talk at a recent conference in association with The Lancet.

In June last year 19 students and academics from across UCL were involved in publishing the UCL Lancet Commission on Healthy Cities, led by Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning, Environment and Public Policy at The Bartlett School of Planning. The Commission discussed, among other issues, the role of urban planning in the creation of effective sanitation infrastructure.

Dr Barbara Penner, Senior Lecturer in Architectural History at The Bartlett School of Architecture was a contributing speaker at the Healthy Cities: Healthy Women conference in September, presenting a paper on the role of adequate sanitation to women’s health and safety. She notes that few social groups benefit more from improved sanitation than women.

The universal provision of clean, safe toilets in developing countries would ensure a significant increase in the avoidance of a number of medical problems, limit exposure to sexual violence and encourage young women to stay longer in education.

Dr Penner also stresses the importance of viewing the issue of sanitation as a question not just for the Global South, but also as vital to improving the lives of women in the Global North. This question, largely ignored in debates around public health and in discussions around how to create healthy cities, is one that benefits from cross-cultural examination, as it highlights the general attitude of ambivalence when it comes to the discussion of public amenities in the UK.