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March has been designated Social Work Month around the world and this is celebrated by the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Department of Welfare and Social Work as well.

Social Work Day – 21 March

The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) has designated 21 March as World Social Work Day. This year’s topic is “Respecting Diversity Through Joint Social Action”.


IFSW is an international organisation representing social workers from 141 member countries, including Latvia.

The federation covers a broad range of activities, focusing on the promotion and improvement of social work in the pursuit of better achievements in the fields of social justice, human rights, and social development. The Constitution of the International Federation of Social Workers states that

‘social workers make a unique, professional and critical contribution to society. They facilitate sustainable social outcomes that enable people and their communities to reach their potential for this and future generations’.

To achieve this, the federation has identified four main objectives.

Partnerships. Proactively building internal and external partnerships with people who use social work services and their wider communities; to ensure that social services recognise people’s inherent strengths and build on them to meet individual, family and community aspirations. Building partnerships to work for global solidarity, also partnerships with other professionals and within IFSW.

Action. Facilitating international and regional cooperation for shared learning and joint action.

Policy. Developing ethical statements and policies that enhance best social work practice.

Advocacy. Advocating at global, regional and national levels for social justice, and individual, group, civic and cultural human rights. Advocating professional social work values, standards, ethics, human rights, recognition, training and working conditions (Constitution of the International Federation of Social Workers).

Social Work Month at RSU

Social Work Month at the RSU Department of Welfare and Social Work will start on 7 March with Student Day at the Welfare Department of the Riga City Council. Riga is the municipality with the largest range of social services and social work placement opportunities for students. Employees of the Welfare Department provide information that may be of interest to students, including job opportunities in Riga’s social system once they have obtained a higher education diploma and a qualification as a social worker.

At the beginning of March, the department will host social work students and lecturers from Salem State University (USA). Lecturers and students from RSU are invited to attend a lecture by Professor Jonathan P. Kessler (USA) “The Brain, Trauma and Addiction: The Triple Threat”. The lecture will take place on 8 March, at 10:00–12:15, in the Boris Teterev Auditorium, located in the Medical Education Technology Centre.

Lekcijai būs iespēja pieslēgties arī tiešsaistē, Zoom platformā.

Kessler is a clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience providing clinical social work services, including psychotherapy in private practice. For the last seven years he has also been working as a lead social worker for 17 to 22-year-olds with autism spectrum disorders, and their families.

On 15 March at 13:00–15:00, visiting students and lecturers will meet with lecturers and students from the Department of Welfare and Social Work in the Boris Teterev Auditorium for an exchange of ideas and experiences on social work education and practice.

Current issues in social work will be discussed at conference

At the international conference Society. Health. Welfare on 30 March that takes place during RSU Research Week, experts from Slovakia, Lithuania, Portugal, Ireland, the USA, and Latvia will share their research and insights on community social work, innovation and change management, social work with asylum seekers, digitisation in social work education, and practice.

Keynote presentations in the plenary session of the conference will be delivered by Aila Leena Matthies, PhD in Social Policy and Social Work, Professor of Social Work at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and Zoë Kessler, Professor, Fulbright Scholar, Visiting Professor at RSU from Salem State University (USA).

Social Work Month will end with participation in the conference organised by the Riga City Council Welfare Department “Shadow People III. Social Work and Human Capital”.

World Social Work Day is a campaign to strengthen unity within the sector. It reminds us again and again of the extent of the profession as a social movement, advocating for changes in society to enhance human well-being, as well as economic, environmental, and social justice.

Written by:
Director of the Social Work master’s study programme at RSU, Dr. phil. Lolita Vilka