A Conceptual Framework for Rights-Based International Social Work and Social Development
Keywords:Capacity building; empowerment; international social work; human rights; international social development; training of trainers.
Escalating conflicts, climate change, rising inequality, a global pandemic: Complex emergencies are leading to a reconfiguration of the world as we know it. Rapid flow of information allows increased visibility and understanding of the impact of these crises on the most vulnerable. Yet at the same time, marginalized communities are rendered invisible, and their fundamental human rights are being erased. In such contexts, providing a framework that engages communities and ensures that they are at the core of any capacity building endeavor is an important professional mandate for international social work and social development. This paper introduces the Strengths and Participation to Accomplish Capacity and Empowerment (SPACE) conceptual framework for capacity building and community engagement in international social work practice. This conceptual framework builds on both the strengths perspective and empowerment theories, and promotes a rights-based approach for international social work and social development. SPACE was first used to design and implement a training-of-trainers program in two communities in Guatemala. The training’s effectiveness in building capacity was evidenced by the impactful networks strengthened or developed as a result of the training in developing COVID-related responses. Further applications of this framework can improve international social work practice and advance rights-based approaches to sustainable development.
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