The social work profession is one of compassion, understanding, empathy, and communication. Social workers across the globe carry these traits, as well as a passion for improving the quality of life for many underserved individuals in countless communities. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) outlines several core values in the Code of Ethics, but the one that resonates with me, and most anyone who is pursuing social work as a profession, is that of social justice.
NASW, states, “Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of the clients” (Code of Ethics, 2022, para. 2). It is important to note that this social justice and social change come from the social injustices faced by many individuals because of their diverse backgrounds, and the poverty and discrimination they face. Social workers must have the ability to understand these differences and fight for equality despite them.
What is the goal of social work?
The goal of social work is to support the idea that all people deserve the same rights and opportunities in life, regardless of their position in society. Social workers fight for everyone experiencing lack of representation and resources, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The intersection of social justice and social work comes from the need to promote fairness and equality throughout every community. This includes enhancing the well-being of individuals and meeting the needs of all people.
What is an example of social justice?
An example of social justice can be seen through the amplification of recent political events and activist movements. Many feel that the most recent past presidential administration encouraged discrimination, racism and social injustice. The combination of this and the Black Lives Matter movement which has sought to bring peace, justice, and equality to Black lives, paint a brilliant picture of how social justice plays out in society. When we think of social justice, and social work, we think of equal opportunities for all people. As social workers, we are constantly advocating for vulnerable populations on all levels, including individual, group, and government.
Social work is built upon the very concept of social justice, as it is mentioned in the Code of Ethics, but it takes a compassionate social worker to fight for this value as it pertains to others. Social justice advocacy is undeniably important for the continuation and furthering of goals in our communities and fighting for the rights of those in vulnerable and oppressed populations. For those looking to create a world of equality and equal opportunity, social work is an incredible catalyst to stoke the fiery passion for justice within.
By: Emily P. King, EKU Social Work Student
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National Association of Social Workers (2022). Read the Code of Ethics. NASW.