Global Celebration of Profession

A chance to take time to celebrate the many contributions made by social workers was scheduled to take place on March 17 as official World Social Work Day, as the News went to press.

The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), a global organization striving for social justice, human rights and social development, decided to celebrate the day annually on the third Tuesday of March.

NASW is an active member of IFSW, which represents more than 80 social work organizations around the world. NASW President James Kelly serves as president of the North American Region, which consists of NASW and the Canadian Association of Social Workers.

Tom Johannsen, secretary general for IFSW in Switzerland, encouraged social workers across the globe to celebrate World Social Work Day in their own ways and to include a theme that focused on their regions’ top interests.

The annual event helps shed light on social work’s contributions to society. It also encourages social work leaders to have an ongoing dialogue with their professional partners on ways to better their communities.

“Everybody can join in World Social Work Day — it belongs to all of us,” Johannsen said. “The main idea is to bring out a positive message from social work, making people aware of our contributions to society, and giving social workers a sense of recognition of and pride in the profession,” he said. He encouraged social workers to report back to IFSW about the ways they celebrated World Social Work Day.

In addition, IFSW asked its regional leaders to submit a video message about World Social Work Day for its Web site. NASW produced a video to represent the North American region.

In the video, NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark explains that international social work is important because social work is the profession of hope. “In the face of even the direst situation, social workers remain hopeful,” she said.

Clark said that despite world unrest and threats of terrorism, “We believe that peace is always preferable to war, and that social workers must always be champions of human rights.”

We know how difficult it is for people to overcome suffering, setbacks, disappointments and bad luck,” she said. “Even knowing this, social workers don’t give up on trying to help individuals, families, communities and governments change for the better.”

Clark noted the collective efforts made by social workers around the globe will continue to improve the world.

In March, the IFSW Web site featured the NASW-produced video as well as videos from regional members in Asia/Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

IFSW organizers said World Social Work Day for this year and next year (which will take place on March 16, 2010), will help highlight the important work that will need to be addressed at the 2010 World Conference on Social Work and Social Work Development in Hong Kong.

“These are times of major social upheaval in all communities,” IFSW President David N. Jones said in a statement. “Social workers make an essential contribution to the promotion of social cohesion, both through preventive work and their response to social problems. Social work is therefore an investment in the current and future welfare of our communities.”