The theme for this year is Ubuntu: I am because we are.
This is a fitting and poignant theme for World Social Work Day 2021 as it highlights the need, perhaps more so than ever, for social workers across the world to unite and work in solidarity and co-operation to tackle major threats to our existence, combat structural oppression and alleviate human suffering.
We see our human and global inter-connectedness in the serious risks to our climate and the future of our planet. As a profession we need to take inspiration from young people who are leading on raising these issues through protest and positive action. The Covid-19 pandemic has also shown us the fragility of life and that such threats know no borders. It has also exposed the wealth disparities that exist among nations and the unequal access and distribution of world resources. Closer to home the pandemic has exposed the entrenched inequalities within our communities and the deleterious impacts of poverty on families and children.
The aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year has shone a light on the continuing endemic structural racism that exists in our world and how it demeans and disregards the basic humanity and human rights of Black and Asian Minority people. The recent tragic murder of Sarah Everard is giving voice to women to articulate the daily risks they experience from men as part of everyday living.
Now more than ever, as a global social work profession we need to renew our core mission and mandate to tackle the roots of poverty in our societies, tackle structural oppression and promote social justice, a focus that has arguably waned and become diffused in English social work over the past several decades.
‘Ubuntu; I am because we are’ encapsulates the inter-connectedness of the current international and national challenges and inspires the profession of social work to build global and national solidarity with groups and communities that are campaigning to protect the welfare of the planet and the welfare of their fellow beings. Ubuntu reminds us of our humanity and responsibilities to each other.
Despite the current difficulties we are facing, we have seen the strength of the human spirit shine through, the kindness and compassion to help each other, and the connected humanity that we all share; I am because we are.
About the author
This blog was written by Dr Makhan Shergill, Associate Professor and Director of Social Work at CLL.