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Article

Clark, Septima Poinsette  

Brenda K. J. Crawley

Septima Poinsetta Clark (1898–1987) is well-known for her citizenship schools, literacy training, voting and civil rights activism, and community, political, and social services.

Article

Hamer, Fannie Lou  

Sadye L. M. Logan

Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She dedicated her life to community organizing and the fight for human and civil rights. Hamer was also the co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Article

Migrant Workers  

Richard Wolff and Karen Dodge

This entry discusses migrant workers in the United States and the unique circumstances and conditions they face. Included in the discussion are social problems faced by migrants with respect to health, housing, working conditions, child labor, and education. Policy issues are addressed, including relevant national, international, and corporate laws. Migrant patterns, demographics, and definitions are presented. Finally, social work programs, responses, and interventions are identified.

Article

Rights-Based Framework and Social Work  

David Androff

The past few years have seen a surge in efforts to incorporate rights-based approaches in social work practice. This rise has been spearheaded by a growing awareness that human rights can reduce or eradicate poverty and injustice while advancing human dignity and social welfare. Professional Codes of Ethics around the world maintain social workers’ responsibilities to uphold human rights. However, few rights-based approaches to social work practice have been developed. This encyclopedia entry introduces the concept of rights-based approaches, presents new models of rights-based social work, reviews the rights-based principles for social work practice of human dignity, nondiscrimination, participation, transparency, and accountability, and discusses how this framework can be applied to various practice settings and populations.

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

Social Work and Social Policy in Namibia  

Priscilla A. Gibson, Janet Ananias, Rachel Freeman, and Namoonga Chilwalo

Social work and social policy are intertwined in the Republic of Namibia and heavily influenced by its complex colonial sociopolitical history, struggle for human rights, and progress toward social development. These factors inform how the social and human needs of Namibians are being met. A human rights lens was adopted in 1990 by a democratic government that guided the delivery of social services to a diverse ethnic population. Namibia has successfully integrated social work into its society, supported by (a) a social justice mandate, (b) a capacity-building framework, and (c) Vision 2030. Social and human service needs are provided naturally by indigenous families and communities, and formal services are provided by governmental and nongovernmental agencies. This article consists of an overview of the socio-historical and political contexts of social work and social policies in this emerging democracy, along with special attention to four challenging and interrelated areas of social work practice including poverty, language and national identity, intergenerational caregiving and the Coronavirus pandemic.

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

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)  

Nigel Hall

The International Federation of Social Workers is an international organization representing the interests of social workers around the world. This organization works in cooperation with global regional social work bodies, national organizations, and other associations to organize international events, publish policy statements, encourage cooperative initiatives, and link to other international bodies. It is active in human rights and social development and in the promotion of best practices and high professional social work standards.

Article

Social Justice  

Janet L. Finn, Jen Molloy, and Ashley Trautman

The concept of social justice is significant as a core value of social work. Conceptualizations of social justice are diverse, with important philosophical underpinnings. A range of philosophical perspectives influences social work’s conceptualization of social justice, including those of John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Nancy Fraser, and Iris Marion Young. The roots of social justice are traced through social work history, from the settlement house movement to the rank and file movement, the civil rights movement, and contemporary struggles in the context of globalization and neoliberalism. Challenges for social justice-oriented practice in the 21st century are addressed. Examples are provided of ways in which social workers are translating principles of social justice into concrete practices.

Article

Social Exclusion and Inclusion  

Karen Lyons and Nathalie Huegler

The term social exclusion achieved widespread use in Europe from the late twentieth century. Its value as a concept that is different from poverty, with universal relevance, has since been debated. It is used in Western literature about international development, and some authors have linked it to the notion of capabilities. However, it is not widely used in the social work vocabulary. Conversely, the notion of social inclusion has gained in usage and application. This links with values that underlie promotion of empowerment and participation, whether of individuals, groups, or communities. Both terms are inextricably linked to the realities of inequalities within and between societies and to the principles of human rights and social justice that feature in the international definition of social work.

Article

Estemirova, Natalya  

Norma D. Thomas

Natalya Estemirova (1958–2009) was a human rights activist, a journalist, and a teacher who was abducted and killed in 2009 after working on stories of human rights abuses by the Russian government in Chechnya.

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

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

Codes of Ethics  

Elaine Congress

Social work values and ethics provide the foundation for social work practice around the world. Almost all countries where social work is a recognized profession have a Code of Ethics. Although there are many similarities among Codes of Ethics in different countries, cultural and societal differences have influenced their content and focus. The extent to which Codes of Ethics have a direct effect on social work practice has been debated. While Codes of Ethics reflect societal and national differences, what is universal and fundamental to social work practice from a human rights perspective should prevail.

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

Reproductive Health Justice  

Silvia M. Chávez-Baray, Eva M. Moya, and Omar Martinez

Reproductive health endeavors in regard to prevention, treatment, and emerging disparities and inequities like lack of access to comprehensive and equitable reproductive health for immigrants and LGBTQ+ populations are discussed. Practice-based approaches for reproductive health justice and access care models, to advance reproductive justice, are included. Implications for macro social work practice and historical perspectives, practices, and social movements of reproductive health justice in the United States to promote reproductive health justice in the context of political, legal, health, and social justice efforts are salient to advance social justice.

Article

Gilchrist-James, Gayle  

Linda Kreitzer and Richard Ramsay

Gayle Gilchrist-James (1940–2008) was a leader in social work in Canada and around the world. Through her social work practice, academia, and leadership at the national and international levels, she exemplified what a social worker could do through hard work, vision, and passion. Her wholistic systems view gave her the sense of “no limits” about her life and work. Her leadership was rooted in compassion and a humanitarian perspective. She was a role model to students and faculty at the University of Calgary in her teaching style and how she cared deeply for the students she taught. Her crowning accomplishments were her work with the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) as vice-president (North America) and president and the creation of the IFSW’s Commission on Human Rights.

Article

HIV/AIDS: Overview  

Peter A. Newman

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the most deadly epidemic of modern times. Since HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS, was first identified in the United States in 1981, nearly 1 million Americans have been diagnosed with AIDS and 530,756 have died. Forty million people are living with HIV worldwide. Although AIDS is still a fatal disease, new drug therapies have greatly slowed the course of disease progression and enhanced quality of life for persons living with HIV. Nevertheless, monumental disparities persist within the United States and between the developed and developing worlds in this two-tiered epidemic.

Article

Charles, Millie  

Rebecca Chaisson

Millie M. Charles: a social work activist, educator, civil rights leader, and founder of the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work. Millie McClelland Charles, educator, community leader, social work activist, was a fearless fighter for the marginalized members of the New Orleans community. Charles founded the School of Social Work at Southern University at New Orleans. As founding dean, she promoted community empowerment as an antidote to racial oppression. She created the School of Social Work with knowledge of the transformative impact of education and the critical function of advocacy for all social workers. The school remains known for its themes of empowerment, transformation, and advocacy.

Article

Women’s Health  

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.