Women’s well-being, both locally and globally, is an important topic on Lori DiPrete Brown’s mind, the Global Health Institute director at University of Wisconsin. She has spent most of her career working on improving gender equality, especially in the area of public health.

Women and Well-being in Wisconsin and the World, also known as the “4W Initiative,” is having its first annual summit on Women, Gender and Well-being next week. Put together by UW’s Global Health Institute, Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium and School of Human Ecology, it will be the first annual conference dedicated to empowering women in Wisconsin and beyond.

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As director of the 4W Initiative at UW, DiPrete Brown was involved with the entire planning process. She said she is proud to have the opportunity to gather great people together on campus and talk about issues that empower all women.

“People coming together to share their research around women and well-being was the idea of making life better for women and making the world better for everyone, but we don’t only want to improve their health and well-being,” DiPrete Brown said. “Women are also important as leaders and drivers of change that we want to make sure they have a voice in leadership and community in their own lives.”

This summit features a range of issues that have high impacts to women, including poverty, global health, sex trafficking, women in agriculture and more, DiPrete Brown said.

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Born in Rhode Island, DiPrete Brown studied psychology and philosophy at Yale University with a focus on women’s studies. After graduation, she volunteered for the Peace Corps, working with young women from humble backgrounds trying to find their way in society. She then proceeded to study public health at Harvard University and became a coordinator for the women and development program there.

Throughout her academic and professional career, DiPrete Brown has always cared about the well-being of women.

“Women and children’s health has really been a compass for my whole career,” she said. “There were so many different ways I’ve done that, [especially] in terms of doing global health fieldwork for many years.”

DiPrete Brown worked in Washington D.C. for many years before moving to Madison with her husband and three children in 2003. After relocating from a city where there are vast opportunities for global health actions, she tried to realize her passion in Madison, a smaller town with a rich civil society beneficial for breeding activism and engagement.

DiPrete Brown said it’s energizing to work within the higher education community and with a younger generation because they are key to instigating change in society.

“Looking around in real life, in the last 10 years, I have worked with some amazing women at UW,” she said. “There’s so much we could do together, and we are doing it. I think there’s a group of us that can all say ‘something I dreamed of doing five years ago, I’m actually doing it now.’”

Moving forward, DiPrete Brown will keep working toward general equality and women’s well-being. She wants to create an environment where every group is free to have a voice at the table, not only women, but other historically marginalized groups in society.

“I really dream of a human society where women and men are working as equal partners, where there will be more of an ethos of sustainable human ecology and healthier communities for everyone, because things will be fundamentally different when you have that kind of inclusion,” she said.

The 4W summit will take place April 15-16.