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World Social Work Day Events

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance brings together groups and individuals in order to provide a forum for discussion, sharing of promising practices and tools, and exchanging innovative approaches toward advocacy, all with the aim of strengthening the social service workforce. Our network comprises 1,900 members across all sectors in 121 countries. To support these efforts, become a member.

World Social Work Day Calls Attention to the Need for Greater Support to the Profession
Every year, World Social Work Day is celebrated the third Tuesday of March, and events are organized throughout the month of March. This year World Social Work Day is on March 20. 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.

A number of events are being planned around the world, and many associations have developed promotional materials. We hope this listing of events and sharing of promotional materials encourages your association to also proactively promote the valuable contributions made by the social service workforce, not just on World Social Work Day, but all year long.

Alliance Announces New Resources & Learning Opportunities
In honor of World Social Work Day, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is releasing the 2017 State of the Social Service Workforce Report and held a webinar to review the report findings and recommendations t. The Alliance is also released the full agenda  for the 5th Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium, held on May 8.

World Social Work Day 2018 posterPromoting 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. Download the 2018 poster, which has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Activities Being Planned 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.

Case management training in IndonesiaMinistry 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. Learn more about the event.

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.

Infographic on achieving SDGsAdditional Resources
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.