NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Ophelia Settle Egypt
Ophelia Egypt left a legacy for the future. In the early 1950s, Mrs. Egypt, a social worker in Southeast Washington, DC saw a problem in her community, and set out to solve it.
In the neighborhood where she lived and worked, she often came in touch with impoverished mothers of large families. Many of them were hardly more than girls themselves, and they told her over and over that they felt that they had no options. They thought theyd never be able to obtain birth control information and services.
Mrs. Egypt thought otherwise. In 1956, Planned Parenthood hired her to bring family planning into her community. She did exactly that, with tireless commitment.
Mrs. Egypt went door-to-door, visited in living rooms, spoke at informal neighborhood gatherings, handed out literature at public housing projects, and reached out to others in every possible way. Singlehandedly and singlemindedly, she persuaded community leaders, including clergy, that family planning was a means of empowerment that gave women and men more control over their economic condition.
In 1957, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington opened the first private family planning clinic in Southeast Washington, DC, and for eleven years, Mrs. Egypt was its director. In 1981, three years before Mrs. Egypt passed away, the clinic was named for her.