Dr. Joy Masuhara and Libby Davies on the Women Deliver panel, “Women's Leadership: Creating Change with Activism." (Women Deliver, 2019)
Advocate, panelist, board member, physician - these are just a few of Dr. Joy Masuhara’s many inspiring accomplishments. Over the years, she has become a passionate and powerful leader in the fight for gender equity and diversity. And she's not stopping now.
As a physician at VCH’s Community Older Adult Mental Health and Substance Use Program, Dr. Masuhara strives to improve the care for seniors and those who are vulnerable in the community. She also sits as Co-Chair of Women Transforming Cities International Society (WTC), Board member of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and Co-Chair of the SOGI Group of the General Assembly of Partners.
“I’m interested in what the impact of gender equity has on some of the social determinants of health,” she says. “I want to see how we can improve this at different levels and in different ways.”
On June 3rd, Dr. Masuhara sat on the panel “Women's Leadership: Creating Change with Activism,” one of the satellite sessions held during the sold-out Women Deliver conference in Vancouver. The panel included peers Libby Davies, Laurel Weldon, Cecilia Point, and was moderated by the Hon. Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister. There, Dr. Masuhara shed light on her advocacy work at WTC and discussed the importance of creating change within the community.
“The energy at Women Deliver was really amazing,” says Dr. Masuhara. “Everyone is pulling together and creating a powerful movement. We are wanting change to happen, more quickly.”
Photo (l-r): Hon. Julia Gillard, Cecilia Point, Laurel Weldon, Dr. Joy Masuhara, Libby Davies (Women Deliver, 2019)
Her work with WTC, a small volunteer-run group, is already making an impact to improve life in cities for women and girls. The organization has been working hard with the City at a municipal level, and has started to see their recommendations gain momentum.
WTC’s current projects include: the Hot Pink Paper Campaign, an effort to raise awareness for the issues that affect women and girls disproportionately; the Status of Women “Action on systemic barriers to women’s participation in local government” project; and the “Women Friendly Cities Challenge: An International Collaboration Online Library of Wise Practices.” In addition to these projects, a motion to develop an intersectional strategy for gender equity was passed by City Council two weeks ago – a notable achievement for Dr. Masuhara and WTC.
“This is a huge success,” she says. “It’s really amazing what a few women can get done.”
(Women Deliver, 2019)
Dr. Masuhara’s drive to improve gender equity and transform culture for women and girls doesn’t stop at the local government level. She believes that having diversity and intersections applied to medical leadership positions improves outcomes, and that inclusion strategies need to be all-encompassing – not just at HR level.
Senior leaders at VCH mirror this sentiment. At the VCH All Staff Town Hall meeting on May 15th, Laura Case, VP Vancouver-Richmond and Community & Employee Engagement, acknowledged there is a real need to have a strong diversity and inclusion plan within the Health Authority.
“The first step is to really start talking about it, really talk about what is the diversity of our leaders,” she states. “What is our plan to start bringing up all leaders, so that everyone feels safe and welcome? We are, as a Senior Leadership Team, really taking this seriously and will be doing some very focused work on that going forward.”
For Dr. Masuhara, being proactive is an important stage to initiating change. Incorporating engagement work and analysis by groups like WTC and the Vancouver Physician Staff Association (VPSA) can help shape recommendations for the organization.
“How can we be more inclusive and improve our health care system overall?” she says. “[Let’s] see how we can collectively work to achieve this.”