Social work is yet not recognized as an honorable profession in our country. A young boy or girl usually does not set social work as his or her aim in life. Yet there are now many development and rights-based organizations in the country and all over the world with a lot of people engaged in social and development works. Their work for social causes should be made more diversified with long-term vision for change.
In the present world they will also have to take into account the environmental problems, climate change risks and unequal development of people. So this year's theme of the World Social Work Day is: "Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind." With the commitment to "Achieving Community Resilience and SDGs", CSWPD (Community Social Work Practice and Development) Foundation, in association with the Department of Sociology and Social Work of The People's University of Bangladesh as academic partner, has organized the 5th International Conference-WSWD2022 from 25 May to 27 May. The opening ceremony was held at the YWCA Conference Hall in Dhaka.
Speakers from 37 countries presented their study papers on varieties of issues through zoom link during the 3-day long conference. More than 100 papers were presented on the subthemes of community resilience, sustainable social change, elderly issues, life skills, mental wellness, transgender community, social work challenges, values and ethics, drug addiction and rehabilitation, heritage and culture, environmental issues, care and development, child issues and good parenting, gender issues and empowerment, disabilities, etc.
On several occasions, by talking with Social Worker M. Habibur Rahman, Founding President of CSWPD and Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Work at PUB, I have known that Social Worker Mr. Habib wants to make social work a respectable and worthy profession to ensure human progress for all through inclusive, equitable and ecology-friendly social development activities. He is a man of keen insight into the global perspective of eco-social development and grassroots participation through community initiatives. In his vision, humans and their actual well-being are at the heart of all development practices, regardless of mere academic theories. Dreaming to see social work as a practicing profession in Bangladesh, he has devoted himself into community social work practices with a global vision of serving humanity through welfare activities for the disadvantaged.
On 27 May afternoon session, we, Shahjahan Bhuiya and I, had a presentation entitled 'Financial inclusion services by NGO-MFIs-Is this focused on gender justice and equity?' The session was chaired by Professor Zahora Jannat Habib of the Department of Social Work at Rajshahi University. Our paper showed lack of progress in women's integration into the staff of microcredit organizations though their focus of work is improvement of the lives of rural women.
NGO-MFIs lend their money mostly to poor rural women, but the collection of the share of payment (kisti) from them is done by male staff members in most cases. Women are usually not employed at the field level for the job of collection from borrowers due to many causes including gender bias. The paper says: "Inclusive and sustainable development requires doing gender justice and equity by aiming parity in female employment. As NGOs are viewed as trend-setters, their management should strive to procure and deploy more female staff."
In the present world which is increasingly getting more complex, social work is not only urgent, its approach should also be reoriented. In Bangladesh, social work should get more support and encouragement from the government so that the much-trumpeted development can turn more nature-friendly, ecologically balanced and equitable in terms of income and wealth. Only by this, development can bear fruits for all and meaningful freedom can be actualized.
The writer is Editor, Biggan O Sangskriti.
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