Throughout the history of our profession, social workers have been at the frontlines of both protest and law-making in advancing social and human rights. This includes the right for women to vote, the right for all humans to treated as equals, the right for people to live in just, fair and sustainable societies. These actions, developed along with others’, have advanced rights in many countries across the different generations.
Yet the social work experience illustrates that rights are never guaranteed, and each generation and community needs to maintain and advance their rights actively. The brutal killing of George Floyd represents the need for another worldwide social rights movement that demands the realization of all people’s rights and dignity through the establishment of systems that based on the principles of inclusion, equality and social development.
Realizing social rights has always involved protest and social action, and the social work profession continues to stand alongside the protestors in the USA and other parts of the world demanding structural reforms of their justice and political systems. Successful reform processes need to start with a vision of new structures where all government ministries including justice, health, social services and business, work with all civil populations to promote wellbeing, inclusion and sustainability.
The International Federation of Social Workers invites all representatives from communities, social/ecological movements and unions to join with social workers in next month’s free, worldwide online conference: ‘The Social Work Global Agenda: Co-building Social Transformation‘. Our collective task in this conference is for like-minded civil society groups and movements to forge stronger bonds and work together to change the systems that killed George Floyd, countless others, and have blocked the rights and potential of the world’s majority.
Social work is ready for a new social rights revolution. We are ready in protest. We are ready in the communities where we work. We are ready in working with governments. We are ready for change!
IFSW President Silvana Martinez and Rory Truell, IFSW Secretary-General
See the NASW USA Statement: NASW condemns yet another incident of lethal police force against an African American