Organized by the ASEAN Training Centre for Social Work and Social Welfare in celebration of World Social Work Day 2023, the forum, held on March 24, 2023, brought together social workers, practitioners, representatives from government, non-governmental and international government organizations, academia and stakeholders to share various welfare-related activities and increase the network of social workers in Thailand and Southeast Asia. The goal was to raise awareness of the efforts of social workers and strengthen social work-related professions in ASEAN.

Delivering his keynote address in front of some 100 participants, Mr. Suriyan Vitchitlekarn, MI Executive Director, expounded on the term “security” from the cold war period to the present day. He said: 

The notion of security has been broadened from the country’s territorial borders to the people living inside. The UNDP has categorized human security into seven components: personal security, food security, health security, environmental security, economic security, community security, and political security. It means people can only be considered secure if they enjoy all these seven components of security. – We cannot say the world is secure when children suffer from malnutrition. – We cannot say the world is secure when migrant workers lack access to medical care. – We cannot say the world is secure when farmers lose their crops during famine or drought. 

He went on to say that the COVID-19 pandemic had rendered the situation we are all in even more complex.

We have witnessed how we could become insecure in the face of the pandemic. However, on the bright side, it has also brought us to reassess and reorient our policies, strategies, and systems to rebuild a more secure and resilient post-pandemic world. 

He then highlighted how the hardest hit were

the lowest levels of society – the poorest and most marginalized people, such as women and children, people with disabilities, the elderly, migrant workers, LGBTQI+ people, and minorities.

In presenting the way forward, he outlined four areas to promote human security in ASEAN. A few of the most salient key messages are given below.

  1. Operationalize the rights-based or human-centric approach in the recovery plan by protecting vulnerable people first and empowering them to access mainstream political, economic, and socio-cultural opportunities.
  2. Promote a more nexus approach across the components of human security, to ensure access to resources for the most vulnerable, especially the poor, to promote efficiency in resource use, and to ensure sustainability.
  3. Use a data-driven or evidence-based policy formulation and implementation approach. This can be done by setting “targeted policies and contextualized interventions to meet the needs of each community” and setting up “an M&E system to measure the cost-effectiveness of development interventions”.
  4. Be more mindful of diversity and intersectionality such as class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, and more to design more effective social protection systems. 

About the ASEAN Training Centre for Social Work and Social Welfare (ATCSW)
ATCSW was established in Thailand with the vision of becoming the lead training center for social work and social welfare in ASEAN. ATCSW plays a pivotal role in operationalizing the ASEAN Road Map by building the capacity of social workers and para-professionals and enhancing further collaboration among relevant stakeholders in the training of social worker and social welfare workers among the ASEAN Member States. For more details, visit: https://atcsw-thailand.m-society.go.th/en/sample-page/

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