You are here

Social Work Day at the United Nations - Advocating for the Dignity and Worth of All People

Colin Liebtag's picture

Social Work Day at the UN meeting roomFrom the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to the most recent annual gathering of social workers on March 23, 2015, the United Nations has brought people together along the premise of a fundamentally unifying principle: we’re all connected, and we all matter.

At Social Work Day, this point was poignantly articulated by Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director for Partnership and Public Engagement in the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division and chief of the UN’s Academic Impact Initiatives. Mr. Damodaran shared a vision that demonstrates the innate linkages we all share as he articulated the following cyclical concept: an individual has a duty to her/his family; families have a duty to their communities; communities have a duty to their nations; nations have a duty the world; and the world has a duty to each individual.

One may call this karma, another may call it the “golden rule”, Bob Marley might cry “one love!”, and yet another may simply call it logical. However, many social workers may unassumingly just call this their profession. Whether through work on micro, mezzo, or macro levels of intervention, social workers advocates for dignity and worth that some individuals and communities do not even know they have…perhaps, that’s the greatest manifestation of where core social work values really begin.

Yet, truly we must tap into knowing our own worth to put this into genuine practice…thinking, feeling, and acting with dignity as it relates to ourselves. When we know dignity and feel dignity just like we know our reflection in the mirror then we can act it out in our relationships with others. We see ourselves reflected in the smile that an encouraging word brings to someone else, because then we know it’s more than just a smile—we recognize it as a validation as we identify with the other along the most basic of human lines—a confirmation of self worth, a heart-warming reminder that we all matter.

The 32nd annual event at the United Nations in New York City was organized and supported by the International Federation of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, International Council on Social Welfare, the U.S. National Association of Social Workers and the International Association of Schools of Social Work. More than 500 social workers, educators, students and United Nations officials attended. The event capped a week of events in celebration of World Social Work Day.


This blog was prepared by Colin Liebtag, MSW Student, Rutgers University and Intern, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance.