Helen Clark of the United Nations calls on social workers to speak up and get involved with the UN agendas and to challenge inequality and injustice.
‘There are so many complementarities and synergies between the UN agenda and the work of social workers; we must find better ways to work together’, said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the third most senior person in the UN structure and the most senior woman. She was speaking to 400 social workers and social work students at the annual UN Social Work Day on 29 March 2010.
Helen Clark urged social workers and their organisations to become more involved in advocacy, campaigning to challenge inequality and injustice. ‘It is clear that no change in the world is likely to happen by relying on governments alone. The UN has to actively link with the movers and shakers who make things happen, including the professionals on the ground. This must include the social workers who are working at local community level.
Helen Clark referred to the huge challenges facing the world to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. There have been improvements but the world is a long way from achieving these goals. She commented that social workers are playing a major role in supporting work to achieve the MDGs.
Helen Clark highlighted 4 priorities within the UNDP programme which engage with social work:
– Gender equality – she suggested that investing women and girls would be the best way to achieve other MDGs
– Inclusion of indigenous people
– Disability – a new UN convention
– Young people
The session was opened by Christian Rollet (ICSW President), David N Jones (IFSW President) and Helle Strauss (Secretary, IASSW). They spoke about the determination of the 3 global organisations to work in partnership to ensure that the messages from social work and social development practice are brought together to develop a new social agenda for the next decade. Gary Bailey, Chair of the IFSW Policy, Advocacy and Representation Commission and Associate Professor (Simmons College School of Social Work, Boston, Massachusetts) provided the summaries and integrated the contributions. The UN Social Work Day programme is part of the social agenda process which will culminate in the world social work and social development conference in Hong Kong in June 2010.
Other speakers included Rosemary Barbera (Monmouth University), who spoke about life course challenges and poverty, and Henia Dakkak (United Nations Population Fund) who reflected on the nature of help after disasters and the work of the UN in Haiti. Helen Clark was introduced to the meeting in a traditional ‘mihi’ presented by Fiona Robertson (IFSW Treasurer) and Gavin Rennie (IASSW Treasurer) who are both from New Zealand, Helen Clark’s home country.
The event was jointly organised by the IASSW and IFSW teams in New York and was chaired by the Main Representatives to the UN in New York, Janice Wood Wetzel (IASSW) and Michael Cronin (IFSW).
After the meeting, David N Jones, Christian Rollet and Helle Strauss commented: ‘This day, and especially the encouragement from Helen Clark, has strengthened our determination to work together to shape a new social agenda. We call on all social development and social work professionals to engage with this debate. Together we can influence the world with our experience and help to improve the world for everybody.’
NOTE FOR EDITORS
UN Social Work Day has been held every year for 27 years. It is organised jointly by IASSW and IFSW and linked to World Social Work Day 2010. For more information visit 27th Annual Social Work Day at the United Nations – March 29, 2010.
The event is organised jointly by IASSW and IFSW and is supported by a team of interns and volunteers. They are also crucial in taking forward issues raised by one or other global organisation and the UN teams are already working on the strategy to follow up this successful day.
The International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) is the worldwide association of schools of social work, other tertiary level social work educational programmes, and social work educators. The IASSW promotes the development of social work education throughout the world, develops standards to enhance quality of social work education, encourages international exchange, provides forums for sharing social work research and scholarship, and promotes human rights and social development through policy and advocacy activities.IASSW representatives are avtive partners on several UN committees in New York City: Human rights, status of wemen, social development, migration, aging, mental health and UNISEF, IASSW gives funding to international projects designed to advance social work education internationally and enhance cooperation among schools of social work worldwide
The International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) is a network of national civil society umbrella bodies. Its members are active in a wide range of fields within the general areas of social development, social welfare and social justice. This includes issues such as food and nutrition, welfare and health services, social protection, education and housing, as well as many issues relating to economic development, human rights and community participation.
The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) is the global federation of national social worker associations striving for social justice, human rights and social development through the development of social work, best practices and international cooperation between social workers and their professional organisations. Since its original establishment in 1928, IFSW has been the representative body of professional social workers globally. Today, IFSW represents social work associations in more than 80 countries with a total membership of more than 500,000 social workers. Special consultative status has been granted by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In addition, IFSW is working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Habitat and others.
27th Annual Social Work Day at the United Nations – March 29, 2010
World Social Work Day 2010
World Social Work Day 2010