Higher level training in Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work dates back half a century ago. After a couple of decades, the Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists (ESSSWA), an umbrella of three interlinked disciplines, was founded and registered as an Ethiopian Resident Charity on 22 June 1996. Founding members of ESSSWA saw the importance of forming a unified and strong professional society than creating three weak separate associations within the same professional family. In this episode, ESSSWA marks two decades of its history. Aligning ESSSWA’s actions with government priorities and social development strategies, has been and, will be the guiding principle of ESSSWA.
The Ethiopian Government has endorsed a comprehensive National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) with five integrated focus areas, which include: (i) promoting productive safety nets, (ii) enhancing employment opportunities and improving livelihoods, (iii) promoting social insurance, (iv) enhancing equitable access to and use of basic services, (v) providing legal protection and support services for those vulnerable to violence and abuse. The policy’s implementation is progressing by defining its strategic focus and developing its action plan to realize progress in short to mid-term perspectives.
In light of this comprehensive social protection policy, ESSSWA is also committed to support efforts aimed at improving the social well being of the Ethiopian people through using knowledge and skills in Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology. It strives to contribute for an all-inclusive social development in Ethiopia. Social inclusion is understood as a process of improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity to take part in society. ESSSWA also perceives social development as an upward mobility of the entire society on fair and equitable distribution of socio-economic benefits to citizens.
Over the years of its existence, ESSSWA’s institutional strength and organizational developments have passed through challenging times with many ups and downs. The most felt challenge is ChSA’s repeated instruction to change its name and mandate. The choice is either to restructure and change the name ‘ESSSWA’ to make it an Ethiopian Resident Charity or to change it into a professional society mandated to serve the interests of its members, conducting research and policy debates promoting rights-based activities. However, the latter option necessitates mobilizing 90% of its income from local sources. This strategic plan would pave the way by unfolding this historical dilemma.
In any of ESSSWA’s strategic choices, it carefully scrutinizes the consequences of its actions to make it neutral from any form of connection to political, religious and ideological orientations. On the other hand, ESSSWA values promoting gender equality and equitable distribution of socio-economic benefits to citizens regardless of their social status, ethnicity, sex and color.