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World Social Work Day: Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability

21 March 2018
The 2018 World Social Work Day (WSWD) was commemorated on 20 March in Geneva, New York, Bangkok and several other cities across the world.

This was the 12th edition of the WSWD, and its theme was Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability. 

Social workers play critical roles in enhancing the social functioning and overall wellbeing of individuals, families, groups and communities. The third Tuesday in March has been set aside as World Social Work Day, since 1983 when it was launched by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). 

The WSWD serves to draw global, national and local attention to the often unsung unique and significant contributions of social workers to making the world a better place. Emerging as a profession from voluntary charity meant to assuage the worst pangs of social and economic disruption spurred by industrialisation, social work has become a veritable avenue for promoting social equity and inclusive development. 

The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development Commitment to Action adopted in 2012 by the IFSW, the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), and the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) reflects the commitment of social workers “to create a more socially-just and fair world”. 

Noting that “the full range of human rights are available to only a minority of the world’s population”, the agenda: commits social workers “to supporting, influencing and enabling structures and systems that positively address the root causes of oppression and inequality”, and; advocates “for a new world order which makes a reality of respect for human rights and dignity and a different structure of human relationships”. 

This requires mobilisation for policies and systems that put people over profit. The generalisation of austerity measures and privatisation pushed by the powerful few through governments and corporations continue to undermine community and environmental sustainability. 

Adequately funded and democratically run social work programmes are essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. This can be the instituted only within the context of robust public services that guarantee universal social protection.

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