On the 12th of May 2021 we had the first session of the del ICSW International Seminar on the role of ICTs for social inclusion and social welfare, titled: “Key issues in the role of ICTs for social inclusion and social welfare”. During this session panelists addressed key themes of social welfare and digital inclusion: from intergenerational inclusion, surveillance capitalism, public participation and empowerment of marginalized populations in a digital society, to digital mental health and social work intervention, social work research and community social work in a digital era, and online social work education. From the ICSW, we thank the commitment and contributions of the panelists and attendees and encourage participation in the next session of the international seminar, on the 19th of May. The recording of the first seminar session can be accessed below.
Session One: Key issues in the role of ICTs for social inclusion and social welfare
The purpose of the international seminar “The role of ICTs for social inclusion and social welfare” is to explore a key phenomenon that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis: the digitalization of our societies. And also one of its effects: the need to design inclusive social policies in a digital environment. Without digitalization there can be no inclusion, and the digitalization model we are implementing in our welfare systems will have lasting consequences. Digitalization represents a collective, global challenge that will redefine the relationships between users, professionals and the administrations or companies that provide welfare services. The objective of this international seminar is precisely to address these problems and challenges in greater depth, analyzing the rol fo ICTs for social inclusion and social welfare, and country cases of successful ICT application in the field of social welfare.
The key purpose of the side-event entitled Social inclusion through digital inclusion in the context of sustainable development: trends and challenges organized by the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) in cooperation with other partners has been to explore the pre-requisites and core activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and are fully capable of improving the terms of their participation in society through wider opportunities and access to resources, including digital resources. Aimed at promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all members of society, the 2030 Agenda (target 10.2) emphasized the importance of social inclusion ”irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status”.
The presenters addressed the existing challenges, as well as good practices that contribute to shaping the most appropriate models of digitalization focused on social well-being and welfare promotion. It was underscored that the ambitious goal of digital inclusion requires strong commitment of all stakeholders, such as government, business sector and civil society. The multiple benefits of digitalization for society have been widely acknowledged in many countries and appreciated by all groups in society. The growing importance of the digital economy, including digital governance, has been vividly demonstrated on the ground in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The side-event provided an opportunity for ICSW members and its partners to compare past experiences and forward-looking national and international programs that demonstrate the cross-sectoral nature of the existing best practices. The presentations also highlighted the strategies for improving the well-being of all segments of the population through new ICT technologies and digitalization processes.
Overcoming digital disadvantages and exclusion is part and parcel of a broader social inclusion agenda, focused on promoting civic and cultural participation, employment and access to essential social services, including such services as training and lifelong learning. In this sense, strengthening the digital capacity of societies is widely recognized as a vital element of sustainable development.