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Every year, World Social Work Day is celebrated the third Tuesday of March, and events are organized throughout the month of March. The day is an opportunity for social workers and others in the social service sector to celebrate their achievements as well as to raise awareness and support for the important role that social workers play in the lives of vulnerable families and communities. The day calls attention to the need for further planning, development and support to the profession and social service sector.
2021 Theme - Ubuntu: I Am Because We Are
In 2021, World Social Day is on March 16. This year's theme is Ubuntu: I am Because We are – Strengthening Social Solidarity and Global Connectedness. This is the first theme of the 2020 to 2030 Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development. Ubuntu originates from the indigenous peoples of South Africa and was popularized across the world by Nelson Mandela. Ubuntu: ‘I am because we are’ is a word, concept and philosophy that resonates with the social work perspective of the interconnectedness of all peoples and their environments. It speaks to the need for global solidarity and also highlights indigenous knowledge and wisdom.
If you will be conducting activities in March, please let us know so we can share with the network. As we learn of events, we will post them to this page. We will also share materials that are developed for use and replication globally.
- The Alliance has developed a toolkit of materials with support from UNICEF ESARO to help in celebrating the day and advocating for the social service workforce for child protection throughout March and on March 16. These materials are now available to download (on Dropbox) and include social media posts, photos, infographics and videos. Additionally, UNICEF will be sharing two blogs which the Alliance will repost on this website and social media channels.
- The National Association of Social Workers United States has developed a toolkit of materials for Social Work Month in March, including social media posts, proclamations for sign on, sample press release and sample letter to the editor. Download and customize these materials for your event.
- Download the global poster from IFSW with this year's theme, available in many languages and can be co-branded with your organization logo.
- If your Association or organization is developing materials, please let us know and share!
- The 2021 Blueprint of Federal Social Policy Priorities from the National Association of Social Workers (US) provides some concise messages on priorities for supporting the social service workforce.
- The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is excited to be speaking as part of the webinar HRH2030 is organizing on March 16 on the topic of 'Integrating the Health and Social Service Sectors to Achieve Health for All.' A panel of experts from HRH2030, World Health Organization and USAID will discuss how integrated, more inclusive health and social service workforces can play a critical role for communities’ health and prosperity.
- World Social Work Day at the United Nations in Geneva will be a virtual event from March 17-18 on the topic of 'Community Engagement for Social Justice.' The sessions will be held in both English and French. View the full program and register for the sessions.
- The 38th Annual Social Work Day at the United Nations in New York will be a virtual event held on March 16, 2021 from 12-1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. This year's theme is 'Responses to COVID-19: Standing Together Makes Us Stronger.' Registration is free but required.
- Social Work Helper is planning an Anti-Racism Virtual Summit, co-hosted by the US Council on Social Work Education, from March 16-18. Students can earn practice hours for attending. View the full agenda and pay to register online.
- The Asian International Symposium will be held on March 7 on the topic 'Social work practice during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Community resilience and mental wellbeing.
- The British Association of Social Work is holding a series of events in March to explore themes and priorities for each country in the United Kingdom. Most events are free and open to any participants to attend online.
- In Ukraine, UNICEF and partners are planning to share several videos on social solidarity at the community level in support of social workers. The theme of Ubuntu and social solidarity is one that resonates well within the national context.
- The Australian Association of Social Workers is holding a series of online events on March 16 including a celebratory breakfast and on topics of practice and research.
- In Ethiopia, the Addis Ababa School of Social Work will host a training on the intersection of the social service workforce with justice and health sectors for services for children in contact with the law. Their aim is to increase recognition and policies by government for the role of the workforce in this area.
- The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) Africa together with the British Association of Social Workers will hold a webcast on March 15 at 15:30 Central African Time to explore this year's theme. Watch 'The Value of Ubuntu to Social Work' on YouTube or Facebook Live. Additionally, IFSW Africa will host a virtual conversation on the topic "Sharing Our Lived Experiences about Ubuntu: Telling our stories around the evening fire." The event will take place on March 16 at 15:30 pm Central African Time. This will be an open conversation and we expect people to join in and participate in the discussion. The event will be streamed live on IFSW Africa Facebook page.
- The University of Strathclyde Centre for Sustainable Development is holding a webinar series throughout March on 'Accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the post-COVID era.' A webinar is planned for March 16 on the topic 'Delivering social impact through transformative community engagements.' Registration is required but is free.
- The Association of Professional Social Workers and Development Practitioners (APSWDP) in India has planned a series of community-driven development workshops between March 13-20 to share the role of community workers in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, strengthen effective management and build partnerships with key community stakeholders. Registration information can be found online.
Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships in 2020
To build international focus on the interdependence of people and the need for change in policies and social service delivery, the 2020 theme relates to the 2010 to 2020 Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.
- The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is releasing key messages for advocating for the social service workforce. These messages were developed the Advocacy Interest Group of the Alliance, comprised of 70 members with interest and expertise in communications and advocacy. The messages are intended to share the importance and value of the social service workforce to donor groups and policymakers, the media and general public, and others working within the social service sector.
- Download the 2020 global poster from the International Federation of Social Workers. The poster is expected to be translated into 70 languages for global use.
- Social Work Day at the United Nations in New York and Geneva has been cancelled as a preventative measure due to COVID-19.
- Social workers in Pakistan are using the day to advocate for and take steps toward forming a national social work association.
- The National Association of Social Workers in the US will celebrate Social Work Month throughout March and has created infographics, key message, proclamations and other promotional and advocacy materials to download and use.
- The Japanese Federation of Social Workers hosted IFSW Global President Dr. Silvana Martinez to share social work experiences in Latin America.
- The Department of Social Work at Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, will hold a one-day seminar and workshop on March 17 on the global theme of World Social Work Day.
- The Scottish Association of Social Workers will host speakers & workshops on topics of resilience, working with parents with learning disabilities and conflict.
- In South Africa, the city of Tshwane in partnership with University of South Africa and other social partners, will host an event with a lecture and sharing of promising practices from various NGOs and Government entities.
- Social workers in Austria will hold their 5th annual event in the city of Carinthia while advocating for the important role social workers play in supporting clients with issues related to poverty, homelessness and addiction.
- In Ghana, a daylong symposium will include remarks from local government, UN agencies, INGOs and faith-based groups. They will also be advocating for the profession throughout the month through a press statement and radio and television spots.
- The Malaysian Association of Social Workers is co-organizing with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for a National Social Work Symposium to be held on March21. The symposium will emphasize the importance of social work competencies to address social, economic and ecological challenges within Malaysia.
- Social Work Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, will be held on March 11. The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Social Policy will bring together social workers, students and other advocates for meetings with U.S. lawmakers to champion the social work profession.
World Social Work Day Calls Attention to the Need for Greater Support to the Profession
In 2019, World Social Work Day was celebrated on March 19. Below are some of the many events held around the world.
- The World Social Work Day poster is now available from the International Federation of Social Workers. Advocates are encouraged to translate the poster into local languages and then share with IFSW for broader distribution.
- Social Work Day at the UN in Geneva will be celebrated on March 19 with an event organized by IFSW, OHCHR and Avenirsocial on the theme "Social Workers – standing up for Human Rights" and a second event on March 20 on the theme "Social Work, Gender and Sexuality: Towards Empowerment, Equality and Inclusion.
- Social Work Day at the UN in New York will be celebrated on April 1 on the theme "Strengthening Human Relationships, Policies and Programs to Protect Children." A student event will be held the day before. The events are co-organized by IFSW, IASSW and ICSW. Registration opens on March 4.
- The Network for Social Work Management celebrates the many accomplishments of social work managers throughout the world from March 11-15. They encourage those on social media to share stories and recognize social managers by using the hashtag #socialworkerslead.
- In Sri Lanka, social workers are organizing a march through the streets of Colombo to display banners and posters on promoting the importance of human relationships and to demonstrate the value of social work in building a just society. They plan to conduct a press conference and hold a seminar on the importance of making social work a recognized profession in Sri Lanka.
- Throughout the month of March, the National Association of Social Workers in the United States celebrates Social Work Month. The 2019 theme is "Elevate Social Work" and a number of resources and materials are available to download.
- The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Social Policy will hold a student advocacy day and social work advocacy day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
- Social Services of Cambodia will host a World Social Work Day event on March 20 that will be live streamed to allow global viewing.
- Social Workers Sierra Leone will again host a number of events on World Social Work Day to showcase the relevance of the profession to national development, including a validation exercise for finalization of a national standardized curriculum on social work education.
- The Community of Practice (Mental Health) team will host a symposium on March 16 in Singapore to promote mental wellness among social service practitioner with the support of the Social Service Institute.
- The Finnish Association of Social Workers is organizing an international evening in Helsinki to discuss how members can become active internationally.
- In Bulgaria, a regional forum on good educational and professional practices in the field of social work will be held March 28-29 at the Angel Kanchev University.
- The National Association of Social Welfare in Sweden is organizing a conference on 'The art of being a Social Worker – the strength of human relationships' to be held in Stockholm on March 19. The conference will describe the theme from three perspectives: research, professional and service users perspectives.
- The Association of Professional Social Workers and Development Practitioners (APSWDP), India, is organizing a Capacity Building and Training Workshop on Effective NGO Management and Sustainable Development Goals for local actors, social workers, NGOs, CSOs, CBOs and youth networks from March 29-31 in Chandigarh. The Kerala Association of Professional Social Workers (KAPS) in India is organising a series of programmes through March including public meetings, honoring contributions in the social work field, seminars, street processions, exhibitions and signature campaigns for recognizing the profession by government.
- In the United Kingdom, the British Association of Social Workers is planning activities and events, including the formal launch of the Capabilities Statement and the CPD Pathway in social work with people with learning disabilities, which have been commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care.
- The Association of Social Workers of Latvia co-organized with the Ministry of Welfare the conference “Social Resources” for social work specialists to be held in Rigaon March 22. The conference will emphasize the importance of resources in the process of social work, with particular emphasis on the four strands of resources – client, employee, approaches, and methods, as well as available services.
- Students at the Department of Social Work, Faculty of Human and Social Studies, Nagasaki International University, Kyushu Bunka Gakuen, in Japan, have prepared a video to celebrate.
- In cooperation with the City of Athens / Social Solidarity Directorate and the Association of Social Workers of Cyprus, The National Association of Social Workers in Greece is co-organizing a Scientific Conference from April 5-6 to highlight the action of social workers not only in improving the quality of life of citizens but also in fostering the development of positive relationships by linking people with the local community and all protection networks in terms of justice and dignity and respect.
- The theme of an event in France on March 18 is “moving towards people” to elevate the issue of social cohesion and highlight the added value of social work and the action of professionals who daily work with people facing various difficulties.
- Activities being planned within Georgia include development of a video series interviewing social workers on "what is social work for me" and showing to prospective students for social service sector studies. They will also hold a workshop and roundtable discussions on developments and trends in the field.
- The Social Work Association of Nepal is organizing several events on March 19, including a march and signature campaign to advocate to government for recognition of the profession.
- The Palestine Social Work organization will celebrate World Social Work Day in cooperation with Bethlehem University and the Ministry of Social Development with a workshop to include video conference participation of Mr. Rory Turell, IFSW Secretary-General.
- The Department of Social Work Faculty of Social Administration at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, will hold a seminar on the topic ‘Core Values in Social Work’.
- At Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania, a discussion forum devoted to World Social Work Day is being organized, and more than 160 participants comprised of social workers, managers and politicians are expected to attend.
- The South African Council of Social Service Professions has translated the World Social Work Day poster into all 11 South African languages and shared with IFSW for making available through their website.
- Social work students in Eastern Uganda visited the village of Bududa to provide psychosocial support and material goods to those affected by recent mudslides.
- Medical social work students at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, held a community sensitization campaign on the value of social work and conducted screenings at a juvenile correctional facility.
Alliance Announces New Resources & Learning Opportunities
In honor of World Social Work Day, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is released the 2017 State of the Social Service Workforce Report and held a webinar to review the report findings and recommendations. The Alliance also released the full agenda for the 5th Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium, held on May 8, 2018.
Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability
Organized by the International Federation of Social Workers, the 2018 World Social Day theme highlights ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’. This is the second and final year of featuring this theme from the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development. The 2018 poster was translated into more than 20 languages.
Activities Held Around the World
Social Work Management Week, March 12-16
The Network for Social Work Management celebrates Social Work Management Week during March to draw attention to the important work and achievements of social work leaders and human service organizations around the world to advance social justice for all.
National Association of Social Workers Uganda, March 12-20
The association organized events under the IFSW theme and sub-theme “Social work and my environment.” Members and social work universities provided needed supplies to area medical centers. They also held a discussion for 700 social work students, hosted a national Forum and conducted a press briefing to garner attention from media and government. To help call attention to the role of para social workers, the association and the Bantwana Initiative developed worker profiles. Read about the work of Aseu Apollo and Fredrick Oyapel.
Ministry of Social Affairs and National Association of Social Work Joint Events, March 12-26, Indonesia
The Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) joined with the national association to host several events throughout March, inclkuding a training on case management for 120 social workers from 32 provinces by the MOSA with support from Save the Children, a competition among social work students on the theme of social development for poverty alleviation, and the association collaborated with social workers in Malaysia and Australia to host updates on social work in the region.
Global Digital Summit, March 19-20
Social Work Helper is hosted a Global Digital Summit. Speakers and panelists presented on timely issues facing today’s children and families at home and abroad. The event was held entirely online and continuing education credits may be available.
Social Work Day at the United Nations, Geneva, March 20-21
The theme for the annual event was “Social work and youth: towards inclusive sustainable development.” The two-day event included plenary sessions and panel discussions based around the following question: How young people can thrive and contribute to building equitable, inclusive and sustainable communities? The event was organized by IFSW, the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), the Schools of Social Work of Geneva and Fribourg (HETS-Genève and HETS-Fribourg) and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). Natia Partskhaladze, Senior Technical Advisor for the Global Social Workforce Alliance, led a panel discussion.
CRISOWO Conference, Rwanda, March 20-22
As part of the East Africa Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Work Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, participants marched through the streets of Kigali to raise awareness and support for social workers. Marchers ended at the genocide memorial for a rally to highlight the importance of social work activism.
Social Work Day on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, March 21
The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) held the 4th Annual Social Work Day on the Hill as an opportunity for US social workers to advocate to members of the US government for greater support to the profession and social service programs.
Social Work Day at the United Nations, New York, USA, March 26
The 35th Annual Social Work Day at the United Nations was held under the theme SDGs, Climate Change and Social Work Practice. For 35 years students, practitioners, and educators have been convening for Social Work Day at the UN to learn more about the UN and discuss innovative projects and issues related to international social work and the critical role social work plays in the international arena.
Social Workers Sierra Leone, March 20 & 29
The national association held its first social work march through Freetown on March 20. They also held a roundtable discussion on March 29. Earlier in March, social workers held a three-day peace education campaign to promote peace throughout the national election process. Read about their activities on their Facebook page.
Social Work Month, United States, throughout March 2018
With 650,000 professional social workers in the United States, the National Association of Social Work celebrates Social Work Month each March. The association has developed a number of tools to assist in planning events and promoting the workforce.
The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosted a webinar in March 2017 on the topic "Advocacy Tools for Raising the Profile of Social Workers Locally and Globally." The webinar highlighted tools available and campaigns underway in three countries. The full recording and summary are available to download.
The Alliance has developed a Global Advocacy Toolkit for the Social Service Workforce to provide a common narrative on advocating for the workforce. The toolkit includes factsheets, stories, data and infographics to assist with outreach efforts to policymakers. An infographic depicts the important role of the workforce in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Share Your Plans
If your organization is planning an event for 2019 or has created promotional materials, please let us know by emailing the Alliance or posting information on the discussion board so that it can be shared with others. We also invite submissions of photos and blogs following the event to help raise awareness of all of the events occurring worldwide to promote the social work profession.
World Social Work Day 2017 Activities
Read about World Social Work Day activities in 2017 in our blog that originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog "World Social Work Day Reinforces Need for a Strong Social Service Workforce to Attain Our Global Goals."
In 2017 the Alliance helped to convene associations around the world hosting events for World Social Work Day. A global group of communications and program colleagues from more than 12 associations held planning phone calls to discuss joint promotion of global events. The group collaborated on a Thunderclap campaign to time with World Social Work Day on March 21. More than 343 supporters helped share a message on Twitter and Facebook sent at the same time to nearly 240,000 followers and friends: “On #WSWD17, we thank #SocialWorkers worldwide for promoting community & environmental sustainability.”
The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosted a webinar in March 2017 on the topic "Advocacy Tools for Raising the Profile of Social Workers Locally and Globally." The webinar highlighted tools available and campaigns underway in three countries. It also include the launch of a new global infographic for promoting the role of the workforce in achieving the SDGs. The full recording and summary are available to download.
World Social Work Day 2016: Social Workers, Social Service Workers Globally Advocate for Dignity and Worth of All Peoples
Around the world, social workers, students and others in the social service workforce came together on March 15, 2016 to mark World Social Work Day. The annual day is an opportunity to recognize the achievements of social workers and social service workers in local and global communities, as well as an opportunity to increase awareness through advocacy efforts.
Several high-level events around the world spotlighted the need for a better developed, planned and supported social service workforce to best meet the needs of vulnerable populations.
“The International Association of Socials of Social Work (IASSW) believes that learnings from practice should be integrated in social work curricula across the globe so that the new social work workforce is oriented with adequate knowledge, skills and attitudes for working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in different contexts. Social workers will need to strengthen and work in partnership with all other agencies and professional groups to ensure that grassroots voices reach the governments and ensure the right to life and well-being for the most vulnerable and distressed people around the world,” according to a statement of support issued from the IASSW on World Social Work Day.
Events in Africa
In Tanzania and Uganda, social workers, students, professors and government representatives took to the streets to make their voices heard. In Kampala, Uganda, a march was held, originating from Makerere University Freedom Square and traveling through the city streets of Kampala. They carried banners promoting ending childhood marriage.
An evening function in Kampala was an opportunity for the Social Work Association of Uganda to call on government leaders to form an autonomous Social Work Council. “Care, protection, family and community support services for the most vulnerable cannot be improved, expanded or sustained without strengthening and regulating the social workforce,” said Michael Byamukama, Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) Country Representative. “We need to establish a social work council under an act of Parliament to regulate the activities of social workers, as well as auxiliary and paraprofessional workers, in Uganda.” The Honorable Sulaiman Kyebakoze Madada, State Minister for the Elderly and the Disabled, Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development, then made a commitment before the hundreds of people in attendance to ensure a council is established in Uganda.
Timing with World Social Work Day, an international conference in Arusha, Tanzania, focused on the promotion of professional social work in East Africa. Conference organizers stated the motive of the conference and convening of attendees from throughout the region was “to showcase the professional contribution as it deals holistically with the most vulnerable populations from the grass-root levels…this mission realizes the integration of East African countries by connecting the social care and support initiatives done by social workers with the community.”
The conference officially began with a march through the streets of Arusha and ended with a regional student summit. The Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Augustine Mahinga gave closing remarks emphasizing the need for people-centered social development and governance based on human rights. The attendees then issued a resolution calling for accelerated processes of statutory regulations of social work in the region.
The Association of Schools of Social Work in Africa shared this message with its members: Many initiatives are underway to "demonstrate that in Africa, social work educators, practitioners, and students can draw on powerful philosophical ideas, traditions and knowledge systems, and that ASSWA members are working hard to develop these resources into practical, teachable approaches. Indeed, these approaches are beginning to define African social work in unique ways."
Events in Asia
At an event in Jakarta, Indonesia, attended by 800 social workers and other social service workers, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, called upon Parliament to act upon a social work bill. “I am hoping the Government of Indonesia will continue supporting the certification of the social workers. I am also expecting that the Draft of National Social Worker Regulation, which currently has moves in the process of National Legalization Program 2016, will be soon discussed and become the present/gift for social workers that will be celebrated in the next World Social Work Day.”
A panel presentation was organized by the Indonesia Association of Social Workers, Centre for Development of the Social Work Profession and the Welfare Worker MOSA. Speakers from Indonesia, Australia and Malaysia spoke on the global agenda for social work in the context of human and cultural diversity.
Events in Latin America and the Caribbean
Events were also coordinated in Argentina, Peru and Cuba. In Puerto Rico, the national social work association joined with the local university to host a discussion on social justice. In Panama, social workers joined with other social organizations to demonstrate in the Plaza de la Democracia. “Every one of the social workers of Latin America and the Caribbean every day contribute to the construction of a more just and humane society.” Silvana Martinez, International Federation of Social Work President, Latin America and Caribbean Region.
Events in the United States
In the United States, events were held throughout the month of March to time with the country’s Social Work Month.
“Social workers take on some of the most serious and complex issues facing society – poverty, mental illness, voting rights, racism, and child welfare – and work with individuals, families, communities and government to create positive solutions,” NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW said. “NASW and its chapters want to help the nation celebrate these accomplishments during National Social Work Month.”
More than 400 social work students, faculty and early professionals from more than 45 social work schools and departments gathered on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, to engage members of Congress in discussions on social workers providing mental health services to Medicare clients. Student Advocacy Days have been organized biennially since 1999. Additional events, including a policy and politics symposium and a reception with Senator Barbara Mikulski, a social worker, were organized by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work & Policy (CRISP) as part of Social Work Day on the Hill, March 1-2.
As part of National Social Work Month, the New York City Chapter of NASW held a conference on the topic of “Building a Progressive Agenda and Striving for a Better Life for All New Yorkers,” with 1,020 social workers in attendance. The Guam Chapter of NASW conducted interviews with media and hosted a conference on the theme “Holistic Transformation for a Healthy Micronesia.” The NASW Tennessee Chapter will hold their annual Social Work Day on the Hill in Nashville on March 30, with hundreds of students, faculty and practitioners expected to participate.
Social Work Day at the United Nations was held in April under the theme Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability. Read our blog recapping the 2017 event.
Events in Europe
Additional events were organized by IFSW in Vienna and Geneva on the topic of social workers responding to the refugee crisis. In Vienna, social workers and representatives from relief organizations in 26 countries gathered to develop plans to strengthen the social work response to the refugee crisis. The goal of the workshop is that it will be a catalyst for governments to work more closely with the social service sector to effectively deliver services. As a result of this symposium stronger links have been established between social workers working in the war countries, transition countries and asylum countries. Key instruments have been identified to support the most vulnerable groups such unaccompanied minors, trafficked persons, victims of abuse, people with disabilities and single parents.