Thirteen Wurzweiler Students Attend the UN’s Annual Recognition of the Value of Social Work
Monday, April 1, 2019, was the 36th Annual Social Work Day at the United Nations, a day when students, faculty and social workers join together to participate in a morning of presentations that reflect the important issues that face humankind. Dr. Lynn Levy (associate clinical professor) and Dr. Jill Becker Feigeles (assistant clinical professor) escorted 13 students from Wurzweiler School of Social Work to attend this year’s conference.
The focus of the symposium was on “Strengthening Human Relationships: Policies and Programs to Protect Children.” The speakers presented on such topics as gender equality, protecting the rights of children, ensuring an inclusive society and eradicating forced marriage of minor girls and female genital mutilation (FGM) around the world, among many others.
For Kinga Pieta, a first-year student, a focus on the latter topic of FGM is crucial: “Though genital mutilation is mostly illegal in our country, females in other countries are left unprotected. Female children are forced to allow their genitalia to be mutilated, sometimes occurring during vacations, phrased as ‘vacation cutting.’ While states have started moving forward to ensure this does not occur, this does not hit the core of the problem. This is an international problem that needs to be addressed and criminalized. With all the international organizations presented at today’s meeting, I’m confident this will be possible.”
There was general agreement from all presenters that sustainability cannot be achieved without combating the global discrimination against women and girls, a massive effort in which social workers can play a pivotal role.
Another statement that resonated with the students was that children are the most important resource for a sustainable future. Both Chelsea Rodriguez, in her first year, and Valentina Rosales, in her second year, agreed that an invaluable lesson from the Social Work Day was about “different perspectives on policies and programs that impact our human relationships.”
Many of the students, who had never been to the UN, were happy to find themselves in this inspiring space, and all felt that the experience opened their eyes to the enormity of the issues facing the international community. For first-year student Miriam Spierer, “what impacted me most is learning that social workers play a significant yet underrated role on the global scene. It is a considerably powerful position.”
Pieta agreed, noting that “I became aware how interdisciplinary our field is, and we need to network with people in different fields to be aware of political and social issues to be addressed. Change is based in interdisciplinary practice. We must come together with doctors, with attorneys, with survivors, with people of all backgrounds to create the change we need.”