Celebrating the women of VCH today, and every day

IWD 2023

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

The theme for IWD 2023 is Embrace Equity, which highlights the importance of gender equity in creating a fair and equitable world.

At Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), over 80 per cent of our workforce is made up of people who identify as women, and we are proud to support and celebrate the extraordinary women of VCH. In addition to providing safe, quality care, they challenge the status quo, innovate and break down barriers to improve our health care system for staff and the diverse communities we serve.

Today, we are highlighting just a few of these inspiring individuals, and they are sharing in their own words:

  • What does it mean to embrace equity?
  • How can others actively support and embrace equity?
  • Any advice to women in or thinking about working in health care?

Click on each of the links to read their responses:

Josephine Agudo, RN Educator, Resource Clinician, Long-term Care and Assisted Living Professional Practice Team

“It’s possible for a future where diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is a way of being.”

Dr. Jennifer Baxter, Family Physician and Associate Local Medical Director, Coastal, Sechelt

“Only when we better understand ourselves and how our own experiences and opportunities are shaped by our personal intersectionality can we start to appreciate the ways in which others’ lived experiences truly differ from our own.”

Dr. Andrea Brovender, Anesthesiologist and Associate Department Head, Vancouver Acute

“Begin the work of broadening your outlook and changing unconscious thought paters with education and recognition and acceptance of your biases.”

Dr. Helen Kwoo, Family Physician, Long-term care, Surgical Assist, Richmond

“Recognize women colleagues and their accomplishments. We need to support each other because representation matters.”

Kimi Manhas, Experience in Care Leader

“By addressing the inequities, we might start to see shifts in the culture that will make work life and care experiences better for all.”

Dr. Ingrid McFee, Physician and Medical Director, Palliative Care, Lions Gate Hospital, Coastal

“Do not change who you are to fit a team; demonstrate what you can bring, and you will find the team that fits you.”

Dr. Gelareh Noureddin, Ophthalmologist, Vancouver Acute

“Creating a culture where the role of the mother is celebrated instead of stigmatized is essential to female physicians contributing fully to the field of medicine, as well as to the well-being of their families.”

Shaunene Smyth, Manager, Ambulatory Department, Lions Gate Hospital, Coastal

“Be curious and open to new viewpoints and ideas that support others and commit to ongoing learning and feedback.”

Dr. Christina Thompson, Family Physician, Coastal, Bella Bella

“Embracing equity is realizing that we are not all equal and striving to correct those imbalances.”

Dr. Saraswathi Vedam, Midwife and Principal, Birth Place Lab, Richmond

“Others can support and embrace equity by working to remove barriers that reinforce marginalization and to amplify the diverse voices of women about respectful care from preconception through pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting.”

We also want to recognize everyone who was nominated for IWD to raise awareness of the work being done, both professionally and personally, to embrace equity.

See the full list of nominees here.

We encourage you to take a moment today to celebrate the incredible women and change-makers around you. We also encourage you to take time to reflect on our collective journey towards equity, diversity and inclusion as we work to empower women in health care and achieve health care equity for

International Women’s Day was first observed in 1911 as a part of labour movements campaigning for women’s rights to participate equally in society and was declared officially by the United Nations in 1975. Learn more.