Thursday, 11 February 2021

5 Biggest Social Justice Issues In 2021

5 Biggest Issues About Social In 2021

With 2021...There are countless challenges that social workers are currently facing today. For many, it might feel like there are still more concerns to come. The COVID - 19 pandemic has triggered a historic economic downturn leaving millions unemployed, and Black Lives Matter protests have reignited discussions about systemic racism, inequality as well as police reform. In addition to the topics that dominate the headlines, long-term issues such as food insecurity and climate justice are still ongoing. The list of social issues in the United State and around the globe in 2020 can seem overwhelming.

At Yeshiva University, we understand that pulling together nine (9) emerging and pressing issues can't just be about recognizing the challenges individuals struggle with. It's the responsibility of social workers to understand how big picture issues impact our clients and take action to support the communities we serve.


On the list of social work's Great Challenges, it might be surprising to see " strengthen social responses to environmental changes. " The effects of climate change can be seen all over the news from wildfires in Australia for example to record-breaking temps in the Arctic (one recent paper found that polar bears could be nearly extinct by the end of this century). This might seem like a problem for scientists, not social workers, but climate change can put a strain on resources and impact the wellbeing of entire communities. In reality, addressing climate justice can positively affect many of the other issues on this list, and social workers have the network and skills to mobilize and educate others on its impact.


Social work and also healthcare are intrinsically tied together. There are a number of challenges when it comes to receiving quality healthcare, particularly in the United State. Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act in year 2010, gaps in coverage remain, particularly with mental health resources. The United State spends more on healthcare for individuals than any other country, but that increase in expenditure has not translated to higher life expectancies for Americans. Social workers offer support to individuals, groups and entire communities, so it matters whether one (1) person is struggling or whether an entire community is struggling  to find the care they need. This year, the COVID -19 pandemic has shown just how vital access to healthcare really is as many communities struggle to access tests, treatment and mental health professionals.


Racism has a long history in the United States, and its impact can be found in every facet of education, business, media and day-to - day life. After the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and several other high-profile police shootings, Black Lives Matter protests took place across the country and have continued as activist demand substantial change. Many social  workers are all too aware of the devastating and long-term consequences of facial injustice on the mental and physical health of individuals, and more recently, the NASW has vocalized its support for federal legislation that would enact police reform and address systemic racism within the criminal justice system.


It dominated headlines in 2020, and it still remains a critical issue for those directly impacted. According to the United Nations, more people than ever before live in a different country than the one where they were born. Roughly 70.8 million people have been forced from their homes. Nearly 30 million of them are refugees and more than half of the globe's refugees are under 18 years old. This displaced population faces the challenges of accessing education, healthcare, job opportunities and other resources. Whether it's escaping conflict in their home country or a natural disaster, refugees need additional support dealing with the logistical, mental and emotional burdens of their situation - support that social workers are uniquely adept at providing.


Even before the pandemic COVID -19, Feeding America found that 37 million in regularly face hunger in the United State, and 38 million live in poverty. Food in-security remains a stubborn issue to solve, so as unemployment rises and many schools remain closed, accessing food through food banks and free school lunches will become more difficult. It's also one that will continue to gain attention as more Gen Zers become old enough to vote. One notable survey found that Gen Z believes poverty and hunger are essential matters to address, while older generations rate it lower on a social issues list.

@ Jackie San

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