In the nation/world I want…

2 Aug

ImageBy: Adrienne Gavula, MSW, LSW
Relationship Manager, NASW Ohio Chapter

We had a group of social workers from Finland visit our office as part of their trip to the United States to study and compare social work/social services. In preparing for this meeting our intern compiled stats about Finland, and I was struck by the contrast.

They are among the world’s wealthiest nation at $49,000 per capita (Deutsche Welle) and have one of the best educational systems in Europe (PISA). They are regularly ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most peaceful nations (Fox Business) and second happiest nation in the world (Helsinki Times).  They are fourth in the world for child wellbeing (UNICEF) and have one of the most extensive social welfare systems.  It guarantees a decent living for all residents – Finns and non-Finn citizens, and social expenditures account for about 23 percent of GDP (Ministry of Social Affairs and Health). One of our visiting social workers said their tax rate is about 30 percent.

I am not a person who enjoys complaining and throwing stones at glass houses; rather I am a person who envisions what I want and works toward that vision. I am not implying one country implements social services better than the other, but this experience had me asking: “In the nation/world we want…”

I am eager to live in a society where:

  • Women are respected as moral decision makers for their bodies and families
  • Families of any kind are accepted
  • Juvenile justice systems  are a place of rehabilitation that take into account the fact that children are developmentally different than adults
  • People make healthcare choices based on their doctor’s recommendations and not because of lack of coverage or finances
  • Every child has access to quality education that isn’t dependent on where they live
  • Everyone’s vote matters, and we remove barriers, instead of erecting them
  • Social workers are respected, fairly paid, have reasonable caseloads and work in fully-funded programs

In this country we have some very serious problems that take courage, determination and a willingness to compromise in order to find solutions. And as a social worker I am continuing to pave the path toward the nation and world I want.

Finish this sentence: “In the nation/world I want…”

*This visit was organized by The Columbus International Program.

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