SOCIAL WORKERS SPEAK OUT ON INEQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the health and happiness of another person or an animal is at stake. The punishments of the society are small compared to the damage we inflict on our soul when we look the other way and do nothing. – by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Once again, it is the World Social Work Day 15TH March 2016.

Martine Luther King Jr. knew that it was very important to be treated fairly and with dignity. He was right. Gibelman (2004) wrote that Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person. Consequently, they try as much as they can to treat people in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity (Barker, 2003). Subsequently, social workers need to promote client self-determination in their professional work (Gilbert, 2004).

The Social Work Day of 15TH March 2016 reminded me of the statement that ‘at the heart of human rights is the belief that everybody should be treated equally and with dignity, no matter what their circumstances’. This means that nobody should be tortured or treated in and inhuman or degrading way. Furthermore, it implies that nobody has the right to ‘own’ another person or to force them to work under threat of punishment. Additionally, it means that everybody should have access to public services and the right to be treated fairly by those services. This applies to all public services, including the criminal justice system. For example, if you are arrested and charged, you should not be treated with prejudice and your trial should be fair.

The Constitution of Uganda includes a range of human rights which protect us from poor treatment and prejudice. The law requires all of us to have equal and fair treatment from public authorities. Some of the relevant human rights include, the right to life, protection from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, protect ion from slavery and forced labour, right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, no punishment without law, right to respect for private and family life and protection from discrimination. Let us, as professional social workers promotes these rights in our families, society, country, East Africa and the continent of Africa.

In upholding the social work’s core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence, we need to tackle the problem of youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is a growing and critical policy challenge in many African countries. Youth unemployment is the unemployment of young people, defined by the United Nations as 14–28 years old. In Uganda, an unemployed person is defined as someone who does not have a job but is actively seeking work. The World Bank (2015) cited youth unemployment as a serious problem on the African continent, where the share of the population of young people between the ages of 15-24 is rapidly growing, but not in tandem with the job market. Uganda has one of the youngest and most rapidly growing populations in the world and preparing them for productive jobs is a social and political priority for the government. About 53% of Uganda’s population is younger than 15, well above Sub-Saharan Africa’s average of 43.2%. About 500,000 people are expected to enter the labor market every year, hence the number of new entrants into the labor force will be growing and will be younger in the next few decades; currently, 64% of the unemployed are aged 24 and under.

In conclusion, poverty is higher among the unemployed. I, therefore, challenge fellow social workers to tackle youth unemployment by finding legal, professional and sustainable strategies of mitigating youth unemployment in Uganda. Happy Social Work Day!

From TUMWEBAZE Joshua (BSWSA, MASW).

edited by
OKIRIA GERALD

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