Dr Lee-Ann Fenge
This year the theme of World Social Work Day is ‘Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples’ and this relates to the second pillar of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development which was launched in 2012. The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development (The Agenda) was designed by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) to strengthen the international profile of social work and to enable social workers to make a stronger contribution to policy development across the world.
On a daily basis we are confronted with media images which depict the challenges and obstacles that many individuals experience worldwide due to poverty, conflict, epidemics and natural disasters. Promoting the dignity and worth of people is an aim that is increasingly important to uphold in terms of the local and global challenges that face social work practitioners daily. Social workers are at the forefront of confronting the social realities of those they work with and their particular skill and knowledge set uniquely equips them to manage the intersections of global social problems.
As social workers engage with the ideological, social and economic contexts which frame international social work practice, it is important to uphold the commitment to value every human life and embrace shared human experience. Social workers should strive for creative solutions to promote the interests of those individuals and populations they work with. This requires an ability to challenge existing structures, including ideology and structural processes, which often undermine basic human rights. The social work profession has a deep commitment to human rights and “at the most basic level, human rights are those rights that belong to all just because we are human” (Healy, 2007 p.13). What connects us to others and enables us to demonstrate thoughtful compassionate practice is our shared human experience.
World Social Work Day is an opportunity for the global community of social work to come together through cross-national dialogue, to seek creative solutions to global social problems, and to commit to upholding the dignity and worth of all peoples across the global world.
Healy, L. M. (2007). Universalism and cultural relativism in social work ethics. International Social Work, 50(11), 11-26.