March 8 is International Women's Day, a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and raising awareness of the work left to be done.
This past year has challenged us at work, at home and in our communities. Today and every day, we celebrate all women, including trans women, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, at PHSA, who rose to the challenge of responding professionally and personally to a global pandemic. Here are just some of the women across our programs we want to recognize in honour of their contributions to our organization and B.C.’s health care system.
Noorjean Hassam, chief operating officer at the BC Centre for Disease Control, is known by her colleagues for her work to champion equity and ethics in health. She pushes her public health colleagues to improve their practice by focusing on equity and providing culturally safe care, igniting individuals and teams to consider their own accountability and role in creating inequity, and how to reduce inequities through their work.
The Interprofessional Collaborative Practice & Education Awards and Nursing Excellence Awards at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre honour and recognize excellence, leadership and exemplary practice from individuals and teams across the C&W campus. Read more about the outstanding winners who represent just a sample of the inspiring women in this program area!
Also learn more about Dr. Ariane Alimenti
, a pediatric HIV expert has been an invaluable member of BC Women’s Oak Tree Clinic for the past 20 years and has cared for children impacted by HIV since the beginning of the HIV epidemic.
Dr. Elaine Wai, senior director, medical affairs and quality, and Dr. Helen Anderson, provincial lead for systemic therapy are just two women who have contributed to the adaptations BC Cancer has made in light of COVID-19 to continue to provide innovative and safe patient care. Learn more about their life-saving work
Pooja Patel, manager, Office of Virtual Health, won the 2020 Emerging Leader Award from Digital Health Canada
. This award recognizes individuals who are in the first five years of a digital health career and have demonstrated leadership and achieved early success. Pooja works with a variety of clinical teams across PHSA and demonstrates professionalism and a respectful demeanour with all partners. She continuously uses her leadership skills to achieve results in response to the clinical teams and their needs. Her current focus is Clinical Digital Messaging, enabling text communication between patients and their clinical providers.
Loren Tsang is an interpreter who works with PHSA’s Provincial Language Service
helping patients who speak languages other than English communicate with health care providers. She provides interpreting services in Mandarin and Cantonese for patients at Richmond Hospital and plays a key role in the health care system, making services more accessible and supporting patients during sometimes difficult or stressful medical journeys.
is a UBC doctoral student at BC Children's Hospital. Her current research focuses on understanding sex differences in prenatal development, specifically with a focus on the placenta.
“In addition to gender, everyone has various aspects of who they are — either visible or invisible — that can bestow privilege or make it harder to proceed in science or in any career or area of life,” Amy says. “I'm a woman, I have type 1 diabetes, and I was born as a right-hand amputee as a result of amniotic band syndrome.
Over the years, I have had several people question my ability to be a scientist. However, it is possible to find people who will believe in you, and people who won't question your abilities. I think it's important to seek these people out and surround yourself with them.”
Ghazal Ebrahimi, PHSA Energy and Carbon Emissions manager, has seen first-hand the challenges that women face in some cultures, where they aren’t given credit for their abilities because of their gender. She’s also seen this attitude come from both men and women – people who, “weren’t willing to let me achieve what I expect of myself as a person.”
Ghazal knows she was “very lucky” to have a supportive family environment as she pursued and completed her degree as an architect, a traditionally male-dominated field. For her, the measure of success of a woman lies in her ability to balance career success with the many other roles she plays in others’ lives: “By nature, we’re mothers, wives, sisters, friends.”
There are a handful of reasons that PHSA Coordinator, Planning and Initiatives, Nicole Spence, sought out emergency management as a career after university. As a self-professed “adventurist,” she’s always loved the feeling of doing difficult, important work, helping people in the midst of a crisis.
But after a challenging past year during the pandemic, she’s developed an even deeper understanding of what makes her emergency management work so special and has helped her manage the challenges she’s faced: the people around her.
“I feel very lucky to have had a little bit of a village to support me,” she says. “I’ve been able to build up a community of other women through the work I’ve been doing and they’ve shared information – and led by example – about how to care for myself that’s been so valuable.”
Tina Robinson, manager of communications and community relations at BC Transplant, has been inspired by all the women leading the COVID-19 response in B.C. and across the country. “Half of Canada’s chief medical officers are women, including our own Dr. Bonnie Henry,” she says. “I’ve also observed that many health authority leaders and key scientific and medical experts in B.C. – including at the BCCDC – are female scientists and doctors. This has been really wonderful to see, and I hope it inspires the next generation of women to seek careers in STEM and leadership roles.”
Learn more about BC Transplant’s female leadership team on Twitter
Thank you to all women across the health care spectrum in B.C. for your strengths, skills and passion to face challenges that come your way.