Article 25 Changed my Life: How the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Reframed my Social Work Practice

  • Jane McPherson University of Georgia
Keywords: human rights, human needs, human trafficking, mental health, poverty


This reflection recounts how working with survivors of human trafficking led one social worker to discover the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and how that discovery catalyzed a process of personal and professional discovery that continues to this day. According to Article 25 of the UDHR, an “adequate” standard of living is a human right – as are food, clothing, housing, medical care, and even necessary social services. Learning to see her clients – who were universally living in rural poverty – through a rights-based lens set this writer on a course to reframe social work practice as human rights work.

Author Biography

Jane McPherson, University of Georgia
Jane McPherson is Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia School of Social Work. Her scholarship applies human rights principles to social work research, teaching, and practice. She creates tools to investigate and promote rights-based practices around the world. Jane collaborated with One Million Bones, an arts-activist and anti-genocide movement, to lay 1,000,000 handmade bones on the National Mall (2013). She is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with 20 years of experience.