Celebrating the Women of VHA this International Women’s Day
Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of cisgender* and transgender** women and to reignite a call to action to ensure a more equitable and inclusive future.
This International Women’s Day, we are recognizing the nurses, personal support workers, rehab therapists, office staff, supervisors, managers and executives who are predominately women at VHA Home HealthCare (VHA). In fact, 90% of VHA staff and service providers are women and 75% of managers and supervisors are women leaders. Although we are very proud of these totals, women and especially Black, Indigenous and racialized women, still hold disproportionately fewer leadership positions in the health care sector—despite comprising 80% of the workforce.
Women have also been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, as frontline health care workers and as caregivers for loved ones in their homes, including as the primary providers of child care. Although these difficult couple of years have highlighted the important contributions of women, they have also emphasized the disproportionate burdens they carry.
Several women in different roles across VHA reflected on their experiences as women in health care and on the value of International Women’s Day, particularly within the context of a global pandemic. Here’s just some of what they had to say.
“I am so proud to be in a profession and a part of an organization where women are at the forefront. My incredible colleagues, both frontline rehab providers and leaders, are truly inspirational as they balance multiple roles as health care workers, family members, friends and confidants. Resiliency is something that we repeatedly learn and use every day in home care, but the resiliency of women specifically is truly remarkable.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to recognize the value of racialized women in leadership which includes additional learning opportunities for staff and more open, adaptive, and culturally inclusive organizations. Today I celebrate the success of so many racialized and immigrant women (a big shout out to my own mother—the strongest woman I know) who were unable to pursue an education, sought refuge from civil unrest and fought for a better life for their family. It’s also a chance to reflect on the lasting influence so many women have had on my life and to recognize my own capabilities, strengths and power as a woman in the health system.”
– Banu Sundaralingam, Occupational Therapist & Professional Practice Specialist and Educator
“I went into nursing because I care about my community and I want to help others. This profession has allowed me to do just that and what I love, every day. I’m so lucky to work with so many women who hold the same values and goals as they have supported and protected the needs of our clients and families throughout the many challenges of the past few years. International Women’s Day is a chance to connect as women, celebrate our shared experiences and continue to push forward for change.”
– Deborah Osom Baah, Registered Practical Nurse and Care Team Supervisor
“Throughout my career it has been truly wonderful to work in a field dominated by women and within an encouraging, positive, women-led organization. Patients are also better served and supported by a diverse and inclusive workforce. Working through a pandemic has revealed a new level of flexibility that we didn’t know we had and International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate the acts of strength, bravery and resolve continually shown by women across the globe.”
– Uma Raje, Physiotherapist with Champlain Rehab Solutions in Ottawa
“I am in awe of the strength and tenacity of the women, non-binary and 2Spirit folks I work alongside at VHA Home HealthCare and collaborate with across the health sector. As mothers, sisters, partners, daughters, grandmothers, leaders and change-makers, these women all play a unique role in supporting and improving the health system and the needs of our community. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on women—particularly racialized women—many assuming the majority of care-related tasks and others forced to cut back hours, abandon leadership roles or leave the workforce entirely. I hope that International Women’s Day is a further reminder of the essential role women play in keeping our families and community safe and the crucial importance of increasing government support for unpaid and paid care providers—most of whom are women.”
– Kelley Myers, Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development
As we work towards a diverse, equitable and inclusive health care system, remember that we are all collectively responsible for challenging the status quo, taking action for equality and celebrating the many achievements of women. Happy International Women’s Day from all of us at VHA Home HealthCare.
To find out more about International Women’s Day and the in-person and virtual events happening in your community visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/
* a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex
** a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex
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