March is one of my favorite months of the year. There’s a lot happening during March for us to raise our voices about, including Women’s History Month, National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers (3/10th), National Women and Girls HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (3/10th), and National Native HIV Awareness Day (3/21st) (among others).
My favorite thing about March is that it’s all about the social worker. March is National Social Work Month, and this year’s theme is “Social Work Paves the Way for Change”. From individual counseling to managing an evaluation project or grant process, social workers make a difference in the lives of individuals, families, schools, organizations and communities.
What’s so great about this year’s Social Work Month is that I’ve been invited to be a co-presenter for a 3-part webinar series focusing on two of favorite topics: social work and reproductive justice. This series, sponsored by Social Workers for Reproductive Justice with support of The Abortion Conversation Project , will focus on not only how social workers are change agents in the lives of many, but how social workers are often in the forefront of many social justice movements. While this series is meant to be educational and empowering for any professional social worker or student social worker (as well as anyone interested in going into the field), this series will also touch on how the personal views of social workers can often get in the way of our clients’ right to self determination, and what we can do to make sure we remain unbiased in our interaction with our clients and the resources we provide.
Social work was a natural progression for me before I could see how it would relate to my ongoing work as a college student activist, and I am grateful that I’ve been able to combine reproductive justice with social work, in addition to the program evaluation work that I do.
Social workers make the best reproductive justice activists because of how we embody the NASW Code of Ethics in our work. A client’s right to self-determination, diversity and cultural competency, privacy and confidentiality, and social and political action are just a few of the ethical responsibilities we have to our clients, especially when it comes to pregnancy prevention and pregnancy options counseling. We’re expected to not only be knowledgeable, but to also remain unbiased and encouraging. We want to empower our clients to make the best decision for themselves. With anything focusing on birth control and pregnancy, it’s very easy to have an opinion on what someone should do with their body, but as social workers, our job is to focus on what our client know about her situation, what strengths and resources she have, and what she needs…and not on cultivating a paternalistic view of her.
I’m excited about my webinar because it will touch on what exactly is reproductive justice, how it’s different from the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate, the barriers social workers may face in promoting reproductive justice, and how social workers can promote reproductive justice at the micro, mezzo, and macro level. If you are a professional social worker or social work student (or someone who is interested in social work) who wants to learn more about reproductive justice and how you can incorporate it into your work, please sign up for the SWRJ webinar series. We hope to “see” you there!