California Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-13), Chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus and all-around phenomenal woman of the 21st century has added a new role to her influential leadership portfolio—United States Representative to the United Nations, assuming her appointment by President Barack Obama will be confirmed by the Senate. Her appointment to this position was surprising to some since she is regarded as a staunch anti-war activist who urged the President to hold back on his intentions to launch a strike against Syrian madman Bashar Al-Assad after he presumably gassed hundreds of his own citizens, including women and children.
It would seem President Obama would nominate a more hawkish voice to represent his administration before the world body. However, he selected Rep. Barbara Lee, a social worker, to carry the message of the United States to the rest of the world. We all know she is equal to the task. Social work prepares you for any and all encounters. She knows how to listen, to process information, to make critical assessments, and to offer evidence-based interventions. No stranger to the world stage as a longtime crusader against the scourge of HIV and AIDS, and a committed champion of women’s rights globally, she is ready for the world; we will see if the world is ready for Rep. Barbara Lee.
Some see the United Nations as an irrelevant institution because of its inability to respond militarily to the world’s conflagrations. But militarism is not the purpose or the purview of the United Nations. It is a forum that allows the 193 nations of the world to gather periodically and work out some of the world’s problems. It was never intended to be the world’s policeman. “The United Nations is a critical body in our global community, and is essential to our shared future,” Rep. Lee said when accepting the nomination. “This nomination comes at a time when tensions in our world are at a fever-pitch, and I believe now more than ever that the United States must fully engage the United Nations and the international community to ensure a safer and more peaceful world.”
Having Rep. Lee on the world’s stage will be huge for social work. We need highly recognizable people to put a face on our profession which is all too often misunderstood. Social workers change lives on a daily basis all over the world. Often we go about our business without any fanfare and with little attention. We are in poor communities, we are in middle class neighborhoods, and yes, we don’t have a problem helping the wealthy when they need us. But we also populate the halls of academia, we work in and often lead government agencies, we guide successful nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies, and we hold elected offices at all levels of government. But if you ask the average person to describe a social worker, they are likely to see us as case managers. We are certainly not ashamed of being case managers, but social workers are much more than that.
Hopefully, kids all over the world will see Barbara Lee and want to emulate her. She is an inspiring individual and has reached celebrity status. As she becomes more widely recognizable, she will be one of the public intellectuals our profession desperately needs to compete in the marketplace of ideas. There are many ways to change the world and social workers are changing the world every which way possible. Kudos to Rep. Barbara Lee for taking social work to yet another level.
Written By Charles E. Lewis Jr.
Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy
The post Barbara Lee’s Rising Star Takes Social Work to the UN appeared first on Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy and has been syndicated with permission of the author.