By Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia

COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, capturing attention and action in unprecedented ways. It has highlighted global inequalities and the political disjunctures between populism and public health advice. Inadequate and unequal access to health and medical services have influenced human survival.  Numerous incidents worldwide have demonstrated that in the face of this threat of the pandemic, social solidarity has been a major casualty. With this view, the Department of Social Work at Jamia Millia Islamia organized an International Webinar on March 17, 2021 on the contours of post pandemic social work during this social work month. It had speakers from south and south east Asian countries who deliberated over the issues of social solidarity and global connectedness raised due to COVID 19 pandemic and identified what needs to be done to make the social work profession more proactive and responsive.

The webinar was coordinated and conducted by Prof Archana Dassi, Head of the Department of Social Work. She stressed on the role of human service professionals, and the need to re-examine their role so that the profession can be more responsive in the face of similar pandemics.

The session was chaired by Dr. Sandra Joseph, Principal, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. The expert speakers were Prof Adi Fahruddin (Department of Social Welfare, Universitas Muhammadiyah Jakarta, Indonesia), Prof. Surinder Jaiswal (Deputy Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences), Ms. Pradipta Kadambari (Principal, Kadambari Memorial College, Nepal), Mr. Amarawansa Ranaweera (President, Sri Lanka Association of Professional Social Workers), and the discussant, Prof. Zubair Meenai (Honorary Director, Centre for Early Childhood Development and Research, JMI).

The speakers emphasized on the regional perspectives of the pandemic and discussed themes such as the aggravation of already existing problems like poverty, hunger, violence, gender inequality to the lessons learnt from pandemic and future preparedness required for pandemics both in field and classroom pedagogy. The prospects of developing e-social work and multidisciplinary disciplinary approaches were also explored.

Prof. Joseph reflected thatin the face of pandemics, it is social solidarity that is the basis of endurance of societies. Prof. Fahrudin encouraged international and regional cooperation to promote networking to restructure social work according to global standards. Prof Jaswal focused on how the core principles of sustainable development like ‘inclusiveness’ have been compromised and focusing on lives, livelihood and social cohesion to address the new normal. Ms. Kadambari emphasised the need for self-advocacy for Social work as a profession and its recognition as front line professionals during disaster response. Mr. Ranaweera noted social work interventions during the pandemic like developing a sign language health message for children with hearing difficulties and distress management programmes. Prof. Meenai reflected that practising Ubuntu from a social work perspective would involve community work and case work techniques that inculcate pro-social behaviour in people. 

The webinar was streamed live on the Facebook page of Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi .The webinar was attended by people representing the Social Work Educational Institutions, civil society organization, researchers and Scholars, and students from all across the country. The webinar ended with a vote of thanks to the VC for her support, to the speakers, to all the dignitaries and to all the participants. The Webinar was a big success and was widely appreciated by all for addressing such a significant issue during this pandemi

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