Elisabeth Zimmermann is a member of the Board of Directors at Niagara Health and Executive Director of the YWCA Niagara Region. She is an inspiring and powerful advocate for women in Niagara. This International Women’s Day, she reflects on what drives her passion to improve the lives of women.
“It’s really important for every voice to be heard,” says Elisabeth. “The women I come across are talented, resilient women who unfortunately don’t get the opportunity to exercise their capacity. It’s such a loss to not only them but our community. Women have been so under-represented in so many spheres and it has societal impact.”
In her 15 years at the YWCA Niagara Region, Elisabeth has worked with homeless women and their families providing emergency shelter, transitional supported housing, ongoing support services and advocacy. She was recently named a recipient of a Women in Business Award for Excellence in Non-Profit by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
For Elisabeth, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate what women have accomplished, highlight the level of inequity that women still face and create opportunities to move forward.
“Women are doing amazing things, and it’s important for women to be recognized and to have representation,” says Elisabeth.
Her deep understanding of the importance of addressing the issues of poverty and the need for quality support systems to minimize the long-term impact of systemic inequalities, has positioned the YWCA Niagara Region as a leader in addressing barriers with a women’s focused-lens among community and government agencies.
“The more we can bring awareness and help to create opportunities for women – that’s what really drives me,” she says.
Elisabeth joined Niagara Health’s Board of Directors in 2019 and currently serves as Chair of the Quality Committee.
“Healthcare has so much impact,” she says. “I was very clear when I started (as a Board volunteer) that I wanted to bring the voices of the women we serve to the table. It’s important for me to make a positive impact on the issue of equity of access to healthcare. Sometimes the women and men who experience homelessness have complex issues, which can be barriers to accessing quality care.”
As an expert in the areas of poverty and homelessness, and its impact specific to women and children, Elisabeth is actively involved in various committees to help raise awareness and implement change in Niagara to help improve the quality of life for all Niagara residents.
“If we want to have a truly prosperous and just society, we need to understand what equity is so that all people can participate. If we have to make adjustments to make that possible, that’s what we need to do.”