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Article

Female Genital Mutilation  

Fariyal Ross-Sheriff and Evalyne Kerubo Orwenyo

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been portrayed in the literature as an inhumane practice and a form of human rights abuse. Young women and girls who undergo FGM are subjected to the risk of developing infections as well as gynecological and psychological complications. Where severe bleeding occurs, the risk of death is imminent. Although FGM has been decried as an unnecessary and harmful ritual, it continues to be practiced in many parts of Africa, some parts of Asia, and the Middle East. Beliefs about the benefits of FGM are deeply entrenched in tradition and culture, making it a difficult practice to eradicate. This entry aims to portray the cultural embeddedness of FGM as the main factor in preventing its eradication. The information reviewed in this entry can be used to provide a framework for social workers to understand personal and societal reasons for FGM. Furthermore, this entry provides information that could be used to guide social workers in formulating culturally appropriate interventions with FGM practicing communities.

Article

Genocide  

Jacquelyn C.A. Meshelemiah and Raven E. Lynch

Genocides have persisted around the world for centuries, yet the debate persists about what intentions and subsequent actions constitute an actual genocide. As a result, some crimes against humanity, targeted rape campaigns, and widespread displacement of marginalized groups of people around the globe have not been formally recognized as a genocide by world powers while others have. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide set out to provide clarity about what constituted a genocide and the corresponding expected behaviors of nations that bear witness to it. Still, even with this United Nations document in place, there remains some debate about genocides. The United States, a superpower on the world stage, did not sign on to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide until 1988 due to a belief that its participation was not necessary as a civilized world leader that had its own checks and balances. More genocides have taken place since the enactment of this 1948 legislation. Genocides that have taken place pre- and post-1948 affirm the need for nations around the world to agree to a set of behaviors that protect targeted groups of people from mass destruction and prescribe punishment for those who perpetrate such atrocities. Although it may seem that identifying genocidal behaviors toward a group of people would be clear and convincing based on witnesses and/or deaths of targeted members, history has shown this not to be the case time and time again. Perpetrators tend to deny such behaviors or claim innocence in the name of self-defense. Regardless of any acknowledgment of wrongdoing, genocides are the world’s greatest crime against humanity.

Article

Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development  

David N. Jones and Rory Truell

The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development (“The Agenda”) was launched in 2010 by the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the International Council on Social Welfare, and the International Federation of Social Workers. It is a global process and platform that promotes human dignity and social justice in a “socially just world” based on the professional values, understandings, and principles of social work and community development. The first decade of the Agenda had a significant impact on the international social work community, with implications for social work practice, alongside the increasing global concerns about inequality and environmental sustainability. The evolution of The Agenda into its second decade includes the formal expansion of the partnerships to include service users and others, alongside alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Article

Global Community Practice  

Manohar Pawar and Marie Weil

This article presents an integrated perspective and framework for global practice toward achieving the Global Agenda developed by international social work organizations. First, it presents “global practice” as a progressive, comprehensive, and future-oriented term that encompasses social work and social, economic, and sustainable development at multiple levels: local, national, regional, international, multinational, and global. Second, it discusses the origin and 21st-century understanding of the Global Agenda for social work. Third, it deliberates on ways of moving forward on the Global Agenda at multiple levels through an integrated perspectives framework consisting of global, ecological, human rights, and social development perspectives to guide practice. Finally, it concludes that global practice and the Global Agenda need to be translated into local-level social work and development practice and local-level agendas, making a case for social work and sustainable social development leadership and practice at grassroots and national levels.

Article

Global Development Actors (Public, Private, Corporate)  

Smitha Rao, Javier Reyes-Martinez, and Carlos Andrade-Guzmán

The global development landscape has witnessed a transformation with previously held development roles and priorities changing and increasingly overlapping with others. This is compounded by the intersection of emergent challenges, such as the climate crisis and economic downturn, that create additional inequities, making the landscape increasingly complex to navigate. The social work profession has actively engaged with international entities through service provision, education, and advocacy. Social workers have historically recommended actions or changes on behalf of individuals, communities, and groups, guided by principles of social justice, dignity, and worth of each person, as well as the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence while interfacing with development efforts in multiple other ways. Development as a topic on a global scale emerged in response to evolving conceptualizations beyond the idea of development as growth alone. For instance, originating from development economics and initially focused on modernizing new nation-states at the end of colonialism, social development aimed to achieve economic growth as the primary means of development. Practice and scholarship on development have also moved from an “international development” framework to a “global development” framing to highlight the interdependence among various societal actors rather than a linear pathway. Finally, sustainable development and its derivative, sustainability, have become central components of the current developmental discourse due to their commitment to addressing the present needs without jeopardizing future generations’ capacity to fulfill their own. To understand this complex landscape better, it is important to identify the various actors in global development and the differential goals, strengths, and constraints they bring to the table. The public sector is the traditional source of funding and action for global development projects worldwide, with governments at all levels playing a central role in resource provision, policy setting, and program implementation. The private sector, encompassing nongovernmental organizations, civil society and community-based organizations, philanthropic foundations and entities, and social entrepreneurs focused on social initiatives, has increasingly become involved in global development. Relatedly, the corporate sector, too, has emerged as a key player with a different structure and access to infrastructural and other resources. With individual strengths and constraints, these global development actors play specific roles and often collaborate to address social and developmental causes. At the same time, important complexities and shortcomings across these sectors need to be taken into cognizance to ensure continued efforts toward global development. The global development landscape offers numerous prospects for social workers to apply their knowledge and professional expertise. An understanding of this landscape equips social workers in developing a holistic approach to cross-sectoral development initiatives.

Article

Global Gender Inequality  

Melissa B. Littlefield, Denise McLane-Davison, and Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi

Mechanisms of oppression that serve to subordinate the strengths, knowledge, experiences, and needs of women in families, communities, and societies to those of men are at the root of gender inequality. Grounded in the strengths perspective of social work, the basic premise of the present discussion emphasizes gender equality as opposed to inequality. At the core of gender equality is the value of womanhood and the need to ensure the health and well-being of women and girls. Women’s participation in different societal domains including economic opportunities, political empowerment, educational attainment, health, and well-being are all impacted by their roles. Thus, structural weaknesses are major barriers for reforming efforts on global gender equality. Challenging traditional notions of gender, which is defined as behavioral, cultural, and social characteristics that are linked to womanhood or manhood, is the basis for achieving gender equality by attending to how these characteristics govern the relationship between women and men and the power differences that impact choices and agency to choose. Further, both equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are imperative for achieving gender equality among women and girls. Although progress has been made toward gender equality for many women, lower income women—as well as women who face social exclusion stemming from their caste, disability, location, ethnicity, and sexual orientation––have not experienced improvements in gender equality to the same extent as other women. Broad outcomes of gender equality around the globe include decreased poverty, increased social and economic justice, and better well-being and empowerment among men and women. Gender equality is a smart tool for economic development because it can remove barriers to access and enhance productivity gains in a competitive world.

Article

Global Health  

Jessica Euna Lee

Within its 150-year history, public health has grown from a focus on local communities to include countrywide, then international, and now global perspectives. Drawing upon the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this article provides an overview of global public health within the broadest possible context of the world and all of its peoples. Also provided are the global burden of disease as measured in disability-adjusted life years, global health statistics, current health priorities, and recommendations for action by social workers and other health professionals.

Article

Globalization  

Elise Verdooner

Globalization is the key social, economic, political, and cultural process of our time with widespread impact and implications. From early migration and sharing of cultures over years of movement to the instantaneous sharing of information over the internet with the click of a button, globalization has influenced every aspect of our lives and our histories. This entry defines globalization, provides a brief history of its dynamic processes, summarizes its complex and contradictory correlates and consequences, and offers, from a social work point of view, a balanced assessment of this powerful multidimensional process that is sweeping the contemporary world. Concluding with a discussion of the implications for social workers.

Article

Historical and Intergenerational Trauma  

Laurie A. Walker and Turquoise Skye Devereaux

Historical trauma originated with the social construction of subordinate group statuses through migration, annexation of land, and colonialism. The consequences of creating subordinate group statuses include genocide, segregation, and assimilation. Settler colonialism takes land with militaristic control, labels local inhabitants as deviant and inferior, then violently confines and oppresses the original occupants of the land. Confinement includes relocation, restriction of movement, settlement of lands required for sustenance, as well as confinement in orphanages, boarding schools, and prisons. Historical trauma includes suppression of language, culture, and religion with the threat of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Original inhabitant abuse often results in issues with health, mental health, substance abuse, and generational emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Culturally safe (engagement that respects identity) and trauma-informed social work practices acknowledge the systemic causes of disparities in groups experiencing marginalization and oppression and focus on healing and addressing systemic causes of disparities.

Article

HIV/AIDS in India  

Shrivridhi Shukla, Sneha Jacob, and Karun Singh

India has witnessed a substantial decline in the rate of new HIV infections in the past decade. Despite the reduction in incidence, the social determinants of health, such as poverty, gender inequality, and stigma, have made tackling the disease challenging for medical practitioners, health educators, and social workers, among other stakeholders. This article describes social determinants of HIV/AIDS and provides a brief history of shifts in the HIV/AIDS policies in India, with an overview of the current policy that is complicated by regional variations in HIV prevalence and transmission. In addition, it discusses the nature and impact of HIV in different communities vulnerable to the infection, major interventions supported by the Indian government, and the diverse roles played by social workers in combating the epidemic and providing services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Article

Human Needs: Overview  

Michael A. Dover

Human need and related concepts such as basic needs have long been part of the implicit conceptual foundation for social work theory, practice, and research. However, although the published literature in social work has long stressed social justice, and has incorporated discussion of human rights, human need has long been both a neglected and contested concept. In recent years, the explicit use of human needs theory has begun to have a significant influence on the literature in social work.

Article

Human Rights Overview  

Joseph M. Wronka

At the heart of social work, human rights is a set of interdependent and indivisible guiding principles with implications for meta-macro (global), macro (whole population), mezzo (at risk), micro (clinical), meta-micro (everyday life), and research interventions to eradicate social malaise and promote well-being. Human rights can be best understood vis-à-vis the UN Human Rights Triptych. This consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, increasingly referred to as customary international law; the guiding principles, declarations, and conventions following it, such as the Guiding Principles to Eradicate Extreme Poverty, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and implementation mechanisms, such as the filing of country reports on compliance to conventions, the Universal Periodic Review, thematic and country reports by special rapporteurs, and world conferences. This powerful idea, which emerged from the ashes of World War II, emphasizes five crucial notions: human dignity; nondiscrimination; civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and solidarity rights. The hope is that every person, everywhere, will have their human rights realized. Only chosen values endure. The challenge is the creation of a human rights culture, which is a lived awareness of these principles in one’s mind, spirit, and body, integrated into our everyday lives. Doing so will require vision, courage, hope, humility, and everlasting love, as the Indigenous spiritual leader Crazy Horse reminded us.

Article

Human Rights Perspectives in Social Work Education and Practice  

Jacquelyn C.A. Meshelemiah

The social work profession has evolved extensively since its inception in 1898. The profession began with a focus on helping others and recognizing social injustices as its core charges. The profession is now being called to view human rights as its professional responsibility, too. As driving forces behind this new charge, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are taking concrete steps to ensure that the human rights perspective is being integrated into social work education and practice.

Article

Human Trafficking Overview  

Fariyal Ross-Sheriff and Julie Orme

Human trafficking (HT), also known as modern-day slavery, has received significant emphasis since the early 21st century. Globalization and transnational migration trends continue to amplify economic disparities and increase the vulnerability of oppressed populations to HT. The four major forms of exploitation are labor trafficking, sex trafficking, state-imposed forced labor, and forced marriage. Victims of HT are exploited for their labor or services and are typically forced to work in inhumane conditions. The majority of these victims are from marginalized populations throughout the world. Although both men and women are victims of HT, women and children are heavily targeted. Interdisciplinary and multi-level approaches are necessary to effectively combat HT. Combating HT is particularly relevant to the profession of social work with its mission of social justice. To address the needs of the most vulnerable of society, prevention, intervention and advocacy strategies are presented. Roles and implications for social workers in education and practice and for the profession are presented at the micro level.

Article

Human Trafficking: Exploiting Labor  

Noël Busch-Armendariz, Maura Nsonwu, Laurie Cook Heffron, and Neely Mahapatra

Human trafficking has become a major national and international problem, and while research suggests that trafficking in human beings for the purpose of cheap labor is higher than trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, much less is understood about labor trafficking. This entry summarizes the current knowledge about labor trafficking including important definitions, describes ways in which people are exploited for labor, outlines related policies and laws, summarizes needs of survivors, and offers ways in which social workers are and can be involved in responding to this crime.

Article

Immigrant Communities in the United States and Macro Practice  

Laura Folkwein

Macro social work practice with immigrant organizations and communities in the United States requires a basic understanding of the underlying values and history of U.S. immigration laws and policy. U.S. immigration policy frequently reflects multiple and conflicting interests and values in labor needs, global politics, family unification, and national security, and policies often shift in response to political leadership, ideology, and public opinion. Some areas of the history of U.S. immigration laws and various macro social work approaches to U.S. immigration policy include (a) advocacy at local, state, and federal levels; (b) anti-immigrant legislation proposed at the state level; and (c) collaboration between grassroots organizations and local leaders to build policies and practices that support immigrants.

Article

Immigration Policies in the United States  

Uma A. Segal

Immigrants from around the globe form a continuous stream to the United States, with waiting lists for entry stretching to several years. Reasons for ongoing arrivals are readily apparent; the United States continues to be one of the most attractive nations in the world, regardless of old and new problems. There is much in the United States that native-born Americans take for granted and that is not available in most other countries, and there are several amenities, opportunities, possibilities, lifestyles, and freedoms in the United States that do not appear to be found together in any other nation. In theory, and often in reality, the United States is a land of freedom, of equality, of opportunity, of a superior quality of life, of easy access to education, and of relatively few human rights violations. This entry will focus on policy most relevant to migrants as is evidenced through legislative history and its impact on demographic trends, the economy, the workforce, educational and social service systems, ethical issues, and roles for social workers. “Immigration policy” should be distinguished from “immigrant policy.” The former is a screening tool determining eligibility entry into a country; the latter, on the other hand, provides insight into national policies specifically designed to enable integration (or segregation) of immigrants once they have entered its borders.

Article

Indigenous and Tribal Communities  

Megan G. Sage

Indigenous populations have experienced hundreds of years of historical trauma, systemic racism, and oppression since colonization began in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. Settler colonialism has created and continues to perpetuate historical and ongoing trauma and systemic racism in Indigenous populations. Despite considerable diversity and resilience among Indigenous populations globally, there is a clear pattern of significant disparities and disproportionate burden of disease compared to other non-Indigenous populations, including higher rates of poverty, mortality, substance use, mental health and health issues, suicide, and lower life expectancy at birth. Substantial gaps related to access to healthcare and service utilization exist, particularly in low-income Indigenous communities. Implementation and sustainment of White dominant-culture frameworks of care in Indigenous communities perpetuate these systems of oppression. Development and implementation of culturally informed services that address historical trauma and oppression, and systematically integrate concepts of resiliency, empowerment, and self-determination into care, are issues of policy as well as practice in social work. The co-creation and subsequent implementation, monitoring, and sustainment of effective systems of care with Indigenous populations are essential in addressing health disparities and improving outcomes among Indigenous populations globally.

Article

Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Survival  

Priscilla A. Day

Indigenous people across the globe are struggling for the cultural survival of their families and communities. This article provides an overview of indigenous people across the world and some of the many challenges they face to keep their cultures alive and strong. Indigenous peoples live throughout the world and share many common characteristics, which are described in detail in the article. Historical and contemporary challenges affecting cultural survival are provided, including accounts of the history of colonization and some of its lasting impacts on indigenous people and their cultures. Bolivia is highlighted as a country that has embraced the “living well” concept. The article closes by encouraging people to learn about and become allies with indigenous people because, ultimately, we are all impacted by the same threats.

Article

Inter-Agency Guidelines for Psychosocial Intervention in Emergencies  

Martha S. Bragin

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is the arm of the international community that provides guidelines for practice in humanitarian emergencies and coordinates among the three parts of the humanitarian system: the United Nations and its agencies; the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee for the Red Cross; and the consortia of International non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This article describes the IASC Guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, their role and history, and the role of social work in their development. The article notes the concurrence of various aspects of the Guidelines with social work practice, and provides case examples of social work interventions in the context of the Guidelines. Practical tools that social workers can use when confronting emergencies at home or abroad are included in the reference list.