Why I’m not on strike today

A Day Without A Woman

Today, on International Women’s Day, some women across the country are on strike “to highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the U.S. and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.” The messages underlying this effort are important, and I support them. They resonate with our mission of improving public health, promoting individual well-being and eliminating health inequities across North Carolina and around the world. I am in solidarity with those who are making a stand for gender justice in this country and around the globe. Here’s why I am at the Gillings School today, as I am nearly every day of the year:

1. UNC has a policy prohibiting political activity while on duty. As a public university employee, I am subject to that policy and accept it. Some employees have taken vacation time to participate in local activities, and I support them doing so.

2. I believe that the best way for me to support women and all people is to be here doing my job, working for everyone in the Gillings School and the University. Because we are a public university, that also means serving North Carolinians across the state, and because we are a school of global public health, our impact extends to women, men and children worldwide.

3. Right now, the problems in this country are so vast that I believe that my presence is needed every day. It’s not that I’m so important. Rather, the needs are so big.

4. For most of us in leadership roles at the University, our responsibilities have increased under the country’s new president. Whether it is responding to immigration policies (yes, we are still responding) or agonizing over the number of Americans who may lose their health coverage and considering what policy levers can be accessed to influence discussions, we are fully immersed in the present, dealing every day with the minute and the monumental; there’s more of both.

Strike organizers encourage demonstrations of solidarity, such as avoiding shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses) and/or wearing red today. We all can participate in standing up for equity in our world.

Wherever you are today, hope it’s a good one.

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