International Youth Day 2022
On International Youth Day, IFSW reflects on how young people have been significantly underrepresented in decision-making, policy-making, and the debate about their own issues, needs and aspirations. This is evident even in professional bodies.
This year the theme of “intergenerational solidarity: creating a world for all ages” speaks to us as professional social workers and reinforces our work for an inclusive new eco-social world. This vision embraces all generations active participation in decision-making along with consideration of the wisdom of past and anticipating the needs of future generations.
As a global professional body over recent years, IFSW has responded to and supported new or young social workers forums and invited their active input into each of the Federation’s regional and global events. We recognise we have a long way to go in fulfilling our vision, but already these youth forums are helping to shape new ideas, policies, and practices. Emerging from these forums are clear directions on the need for restructuring social work education and practice, so that issues which concern younger generations are included: social action, climate justice, community work practice skills, and the role of facilitating social entrepreneurship.
New and young social workers have also highlighted the lack of support systems between education and practice and the unwelcoming complexity of engaging with professional bodies, therefore highlighting the importance and the need to contribute towards creating a world for all ages. International solidarity has been a key part of this work, where new and young social workers are able to share their experiences on national, regional, and international scales, across countries, and cultures. The next generation of social workers are the spearhead of change, and IFSW has been and will continue to support their representation and inclusion of the youth.
Bernard Mayaka, Youth Coordinator in the IFSW African Region commented, ‘‘While working to coordinate young social workers in Africa, it’s clear that young people are aware of their unique needs, the modern world concerns, roles and responsibilities and are passionate about using their creativity and innovation make the world a better place. In the professional world, they all have mixed feelings. Some feel barred from opportunities, others believe experienced fellows view them as threats, and those who do get the chance do not communicate or share in fear of losing out. For youth and or young social workers to thrive, all of us must provide a supportive environment through mentorship, appreciation, and guide those who are willing to volunteer as we learn from them. We are all one and interdependent, inclusivity is the road map to a sustainable world that leaves no one behind.’
Omar Mohamed, Director of IFSW Europe New Social Workers Project said “Directing the IFSW European Region New Social Workers Project has shown me that IFSW is committed to ensuring that we are involved in decision making within the institution, and that we are included to speak up and improve matters that matter to us. This was through solidarity and partnership working with more senior social workers and leaders, and international solidarity has been achieved through working with new and young social workers across other IFSW regions also. I am looking forward to the future of the youth in IFSW, as we have been able to achieve many great outcomes for the next generation of social workers already and will continue to be the spearhead for change.”
In addition to our internal focus, IFSW advocates externally for all policy and decision-making bodies to respond to the youth voices and forums that surround them, to create space and opportunities to include them and recognise the critical importance of young people’s aspirations for all our futures and for a world that leaves no one behind.