“We need a new social contract
First, it must ensure human rights for all—importantly, this includes those not fully benefitting from previous social contracts such as women, informal workers and migrants.
Second, it needs to provide security, protection and larger freedom in a fast-changing world.
Third, it needs to stipulate the transformation of economies and societies to halt climate change and environmental destruction”.
These words from Katja Hujo from UNRISD concluded a two-day online World Social Work day event held at the United Nations Geneva headquarters. The conference co-hosted by the United Nations Research on Social Development agency comprised of local and international social work and education organizations. Professor Annamaria Campanini speaking for the International Association of Schools of Social Work stressed the importance of solidarity, social cohesion and the need to work together as important in making plans for the future.
Ana Radulescu, IFSW European President stated: “COVID-19 started as a health crisis and became very fast a social and economic crisis. Social workers in Europe successfully advocated with governments that a social response is imperative and social services are essential. IFSW Europe and the associations of social workers organized online meetings to help social workers to learn from each other, to create new responses with communities, to put in place new protocols for protection against infections and new practices that work with rather than for people. IFSW Europe called on employers and governments to provide the necessary professional support to social workers to remain resilient, as social problems increased, caseload increased, social needs diversified, and resources dwindled.”
Later in the meeting this was confirmed by Katja Hujo in her comment: “We often hear that the old social contract is broken and that citizens have less and less trust in governments and institutions as a result of multiple crises, increasing elite power and wealth concentration, and persistence of exclusion and poverty. A social contract is a promise to deliver on political participation, equality, security and wellbeing, with each person and entity making a fair contribution”.
In order to facilitate these new social contracts developed locally and globally, IFSW called on the UN to facilitate a global gathering of civil societies to co-design and co-build new systems that people will trust. Rory Truell noted that: “Human rights are rarely given. Rights are demanded before they are recognized. Civil rights movements, feminist movements, indigenous movements have taught us this. Now is the time for change and to act for shared futures. We must bring back the SDGs and bring to the SDGs the voices of communities. How they interpret their developmental aspirations and how they identify their role in achieving them. As social workers we are well aware of the power and potential that sits with people. When vulnerability is transformed to strength anything can happen”.
The conference reaffirmed the partners’ commitment to shifting the social services and social development paradigm to work with people and communities and to incorporate the philosophy of Ubuntu into the formation of new eco-social contracts.
To see Secretary-General of IFSW, Rory Truell’s speech notes click here.