Department profile: Health-Care Equity, Quality & Human Rights
November 12, 2021
Following the 2019 study, Experiences of Racism among Ontario BIPOC Midwives and Students in Midwifery Education and Profession, the AOM has engaged with initiatives to advance racial equity in the profession. To ensure our commitment to dismantle racism is prioritized and maintained over the years, the AOM’s Strategic Plan and Constitution were amended in the summer of 2020 to include racial equity. Since then, the AOM has launched a new department, Health-Care Equity, Quality & Human Rights (HEQHR), to lead racial equity and human rights work.
Highlights of work the HEQHR department will be leading over the coming months
- A review of our organizational policies and procedures to ensure racial and human rights equity principles are central in our processes.
- The development of tools, resources and learning opportunities to support members to create equitable work environments for Indigenous, Black, racialized and equity-seeking midwives, students and staff, and to deliver culturally sensitive, quality care to IBPOC and equity-seeking communities.
- The development of an anti-racism position statement.
- Opportunities for Indigenous, Black and racialized members to connect for peer support and networking.
- Opportunities for members to share knowledge and strategies to advance racial equity in their practice groups.
Meet the team
Feben Aseffa (she/hers)
Director, Health-Care, Equity, Quality & Human Rights
Feben Aseffa (she/hers) is an Ethiopian, Muslim, mother and settler who is dedicated to continually learning and raising the volume of marginalized voices to challenge systems of oppression, particularly systemic racism. Prior to becoming a midwife, Feben worked as a research assistant in studies investigating the health disparities of immigrant and refugee populations.
She is an alumna of the Ryerson University Midwifery Education Program and holds a Master of Health Management from the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University. From 2009-2014, she focused her clinical practice on providing culturally sensitive and respectful care and improving access to services for racialized clients with limited resources and low socio-economic status. Employing her lived, academic and professional experiences as a midwife and Quality and Risk Management Specialist at the AOM, Feben launched the study, Experiences of Racism Among Ontario BIPOC Midwives and Students in Midwifery Education and Profession as principal investigator. This was the first Canadian study to explore racism in midwifery, and it propelled a commitment to prioritize racial equity work within the AOM and across the profession. To action change in response to this study, Feben has catalyzed numerous initiatives to work towards dismantling systemic racism within the association and midwifery profession, including the formation of a Racial Equity Committee at the AOM; the addition of a racial justice pillar in the AOM Strategic Plan; the establishment of the AOM’s Health-Care Equity, Quality and Human Rights department; a variety of educational opportunities on anti-racism and anti-Black racism; and the re-envisioning of racially equitable meeting processes.
In addition to her role as the Director of HEQHR at the AOM, Feben is the Chair of a national group of racialized midwives, students and allied workers, member of the Black Health Matters COVID-19 Advisory Committee and the BORN External Health Equity Advisory Group.
Faduma Gure (she/hers)
Manager, Health-Care Equity, Quality & Human Rights
Faduma Gure is a graduate of the University of Ottawa’s Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (MSc) program. She obtained her Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from the University of Ottawa, and began pursuing her midwifery degree at Ryerson University in 2016 (presently on leave from the program). With nearly a decade of experience in research and community development, Faduma has long engaged in initiatives that promote access to quality, culturally appropriate health services among underserved populations, both in Canada and abroad. As a researcher, Faduma has leveraged her skills to highlight health-care equity issues, ranging from barriers to reproductive health services in conflict and post-conflict settings (primarily in East Africa) to the systemic barriers that have intersected within her local communities, negatively impacting people’s health and well-being. In her role as a Knowledge Translation and Research Specialist at the AOM, Faduma has had a special interest in ensuring that the development of all client- and midwife-directed resources employ an equity lens, with the intention of preventing and lessening health disparities in Ontario’s birthing population. To this end, Faduma has strategized around the inclusion of Indigenous, Black and racialized Ontarians in the development and review of client resources and the minimization of the disproportionate impacts of clinical recommendations on equity-seeking groups in Ontario. Faduma has also leveraged her skills to support equity-focused midwifery projects, such as the Learn More Midwifery project, which aims to promote midwifery services among Black Ontarians and the AOM’s Experiences of Racism Among Ontario BIPOC Midwives and Students in Midwifery Education and Profession research study. Faduma is excited to be supporting the AOM in prioritizing health-care equity and human rights work.
Lwam Mehari (she/hers)
Policy Analyst, Health-Care Equity, Quality & Human Rights
Lwam Mehari is a graduate of Western University’s Master of Public Health (MPH) Program at the Schulich School for Medicine and Dentistry, and holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Toronto in Bioethics and English. Lwam’s personal, academic and professional experiences reflect her commitment to racial equity, health-care equity and human rights work. Her participation in numerous community-based initiatives to dismantle racism has afforded her opportunities to engage with government leaders, policy makers, health-care providers and academic institutions where equity-seeking groups experience systemic oppression and require meaningful change and justice. Lwam began her work at the AOM as an MPH practicum student supporting research on the Experiences of Racism Among Ontario BIPOC Midwives and Students in Midwifery Education and Profession research study. Following her practicum, she continued to work at the AOM in ongoing advocacy for racial equity in midwifery. Lwam has long been deeply invested in health-equity and human rights work in the health-care system and is committed to achieving justice for equity-seeking groups in midwifery.
Denese Brown (she/hers)
Events and Administrative Coordinator, Health-Care Equity, Quality & Human Rights
Denese Brown is an accomplished meetings and events professional with over 20 years of successful experience in the not-for-profit sector. She holds the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential which is globally recognized as the standard of excellence in the events industry. Denese's extensive career history working with various national and provincial associations in events management has exemplified her ongoing commitment to member advocacy, support, service and dedication.
Denese is first generation born Canadian with roots in Guyana, South America. Lived experiences, both personally and professionally have made Denese acutely aware of the individual and structural impact of racial inequality, injustice and human rights-based inequity.
Bringing combined skillfulness, knowledge and philosophies to her new role as Events and Administrative Coordinator, Denese is enthused to contribute to the HEQHR team in its vision of prioritizing racial equity in midwifery, advocating for quality health-care services, and supporting AOM member learning opportunities and strategies that impact human rights work and principles across the profession.