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Social work is a human rights discipline

Social work is a human rights discipline, IFSW president speaks up for the profession

Ruth Stark, the new president of the International Federation of Social Workers, has big plans for a global social work community.

“Social work is a human rights discipline. It’s not just an element of it- it is the core principle.” That is the view of Ruth Stark, the newly appointed president of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and former head of the Scottish Association of Social Workers.

Social work isn’t always viewed this way though. It is perhaps more often seen as a localised effort to deal with a community’s every day strains and strife than a grand human rights endeavour. But Stark, who still works as a frontline practitioner, feels strongly that social workers need to be able to identify with a global profession in the same way lawyers or health professionals do. They need to understand their work as an important social justice effort rather than having what she calls an “administrative identity”.

The IFSW is an organisation that brings together the representative bodies in social work from 116 countries across the globe and takes the issues from the frontline of social work to the policy makers. With non-governmental organisation (NGO) status in the United Nations, they respond to consultations and work to influence policy.

Stark’s selection as president means the head of the organisation that serves as voice for social work on the global stage is UK-based. But what does being part of a global community mean for social work here?

“Social work is practiced in all sorts of different ways,” Stark explains. “What the IFSW does is not just about representing different countries but about representing different kinds of social work and sharing that knowledge and information.”

 

Full story courtesy of Community Care

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