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Welfare as a right has long been an objective of advocates for social and economic justice. During the 1960s, the right to welfare was championed by legal scholars as well as the activists who created the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). With the demise of NWRO in 1975 and the subsequent ascendance of conservatism in social policy, notably the 1996 welfare reform act, momentum for welfare as a right flagged. Since the 1990s, a capability approach to well-being has been proposed, and various instruments have been constructed to evaluate the welfare of populations across nations as well as subnational jurisdictions. Variables such as income, health, education, employment, and satisfaction measures of well-being have effectively replaced the idea of welfare as a right. The transition from welfare as a right to well-being varying across populations provides more information social workers can use to advocate for marginalized populations.
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (1862–1931) was a journalist, civil rights spokeswoman, and civic organizer. She wrote and lectured about the plight of Blacks in the South, especially lynching. She founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, the first Black women's organization of its kind.
Sadye L. M. Logan
Barbara W. White (1943–2019), Dean Emeritus at University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work, was an accomplished scholar in the areas of cultural diversity, women, and domestic violence. She was actively engaged with social work education for over three decades and was a former president of both the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). White has left a distinguished legacy that spans the national and international communities of social work.
Eartha Mary Magdalene White (1876–1974) was a civic-minded Black businesswoman. She organized health and welfare services for the Black community in Jacksonville, Florida. She founded the Clara White Mission for the homeless and later founded the Eartha M. M. White Nursing Home.
Kathryn P. Alessandria
Research on White ethnics is lacking in the diversity literature; when included, they are used as the comparison for other ethnic groups. Diversity exists among White ethnics; consequences of ignoring these differences include culturally insensitive and inappropriate treatment, misunderstanding clients, and poor therapeutic alliances. The heterogeneity within the White ethnic population and strategies for gaining cultural information and demonstrating cross-cultural effectiveness are discussed.
Phylis J. Peterman
Michael White (1948–2008), academic, researcher, adventurer, and athlete, is known as a leading developer of narrative family therapy. Narrative family therapy focuses on empowerment, strengths, and collaboration and positions people as the experts in their own lives. The theory has application in problem solving and conflict resolution with diverse groups.
Charlotte Whitton (1896–1975) was a woman of enormous energy, personal ambition, and drive. She had essentially three careers: as a social worker who was the guiding force behind the ascendency of the Canadian Council on Child Welfare, as a journalist and campaigner on child welfare and other social service issues, and as a municipal politician who rose to be the first woman mayor of a major Canadian city.
Eric R. Kingson
Elizabeth Wickenden (1909–2001) was a social work administrator and advisor, policy writer, and advocate. In the 1950s, she launched an effective coalition of social welfare and labor organizations, known as the “Wicky Lobby.” A pioneering legal rights advocate, she advanced legal services and class action strategies on behalf of public assistance and child welfare clients.
Jean K. Quam
George Wiley (1931–1973) was a reformer, organizer, and social activist. He is credited with organizing poor people into a significant political force in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He founded the Poverty/Rights Action Center in Washington, DC.
Roy Wilkins (1901–1981) was a writer and national civil rights spokesperson. He was assistant executive secretary and executive director of the NAACP for 46 years, during which time he struggled for justice and civil rights in all aspects of American life.
Anita Rose Williams (1891–1983) was a social worker and supervisor. She was the first Black Catholic social worker in the United States and the first Black supervisor employed by a Baltimore, Maryland, agency. She co-organized District Eleven of the Baltimore Emergency Relief Commission.
John F. Longres
Ernest Frederic Witte (1904–1986) was an educator and administrator. His work in the social welfare field, particularly during World War II, was influential both in the United States and internationally. He was among the first to deal with survivors of the Nazi death camps.
Ruth Irelan Knee
Milton Wittman (1915–1994) was a social worker, writer, and leader in social work, public health, and mental health. He played a key role in the expansion of opportunities for social work education and for the involvement of social workers in the provision of mental health services.
Selena T. Rodgers
Domestic violence is a public health problem shown to inflict severe mental and physical injury on millions of individuals and has considerable social costs. Absent from the literature is an examination of womanism ideologies, which provide a greater understanding of the full praxis that black women who experience domestic violence engage. Drawing from initial conceptualizations of womanism and later contributions of Africana womanism, this article brings into focus pervasive acts of violence perpetrated against black women, their racial loyalty to protect black men, and the limitations of existing domestic violence models and interventions. This entry addresses how these three interconnected areas are treated within the conceptual framework of womanism. An overview of violence against black women reveals the historical and contemporary forms of knowledge and praxis that have sought to overcome the social problem of intimate partner abuse, including the social construction of controlling images and the Power and Control Wheel (The Duluth Model). This entry also examines the prevalence of violence perpetrated against black women and compounding factors. In addition, this author considers the Violence Against Women Act and its consequences on laws and policies that affect the race, gender, and class experiences of black women coping with domestic violence. Also analyzed is the quintessential role of demographics, the culture of domestic violence, and international debates about womanism, including how black women intellectuals are prioritizing race-empowerment perspectives and a reference point to articulate healthy black relationships are prioritized. The article also reviews social work practice with black women victims/survivors of domestic violence and their families.
Ruth A. Brandwein
This overview entry introduces the topic of women, beginning with general demographic information. The section on poverty and inequality, which follows, describes the gender differences and delineates some reasons why women are poor and unequal. Issues of childcare, welfare, and education are explored. Domestic violence and sexual assault are discussed, followed by a discussion of health and mental health issues affecting women. The role of women in politics is briefly explored. The entry concludes with a discussion of current trends and challenges, including implications for social justice.
Gender hierarchy is the most pervasive source of inequality in the world. In view of the commitment of social work to the goal of justice, redressing the consequences of inequality among the most disenfranchised should be at the core of professional intervention. Rather than discussing the merits of specific types of practice intervention adopted by social workers, I focus on strategies and knowledge-gathering techniques relevant to empowering women, with an emphasis on five social work methods.
Marian A. Aguilar
This entry provides an abbreviated version of the status of women's health in the United States, highlighting health care utilization, health care expenditures, policy issues, barriers to health care, and the impact on populations at risk. The findings accentuate the importance of moving the women's health care agenda forward because of the persistence of health disparities not just among women of color but among women with disabilities, adolescents, women in violent relationships, women with AIDS, women who are incarcerated, women who are homeless, older low-income women, women on welfare, and lesbian women.
Women have a lengthy history of fighting their oppression as women and the inequalities associated with this to claim their place on the world stage, in their countries, and within their families. This article focuses on women’s struggles to be recognized as having legitimate concerns about development initiatives at all levels of society and valuable contributions to make to social development. Crucial to their endeavors were: (1) upholding gender equality and insisting that women be included in all deliberations about sustainable development and (2) seeing that their daily life needs, including their human rights, be treated with respect and dignity and their right to and need for education, health, housing, and all other public goods are realized. The role of the United Nations in these endeavors is also considered. Its policies on gender and development, on poverty alleviation strategies—including the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals—are discussed and critiqued. Women’s rights are human rights, but their realization remains a challenge for policymakers and practitioners everywhere. Social workers have a vital role to play in advocating for gender equality and mobilizing women to take action in support of their right to social justice. Our struggle for equality has a long and courageous history.
Vimla Nadkarni and Roopashri Sinha
The entry outlines a historical and global overview of women’s health in the context of human rights and public health activism. It unravels social myths, traditional norms, and stereotypes impacting women’s health because social workers must understand the diverse factors affecting women’s health in a continually changing and globalized world. There is need for more inclusive feminist and human rights models to study and advocate women’s health. There is as much scope for working with women in a more holistic manner as there is for researching challenging issues and environments shaping women’s health.
Alice B. Gates
This entry describes worker centers as new sites of community practice. Worker centers are community-based organizations focused on the needs of low-wage and immigrant workers. This new organizational form emerged most prominently in the United States since the mid-1990s, largely in response to concerns about workplace abuses in low-wage and informal sectors. Drawing on multiple traditions, including labor unions, settlement houses, and ethnic agencies, worker centers offer a hybrid approach to planned change: They support workers organizing for collective action, provide direct services, and advocate for policy change at state and local levels. In the last decade, worker centers have led the efforts to pass legislation protecting domestic workers and helped low-wage workers win millions of dollars in lost or stolen wages from employers. These and other notable examples of U.S. worker centers’ contributions to community practice and social justice will be discussed.