International Social Work Leader Review

CSWE’s Commission on Global Social Work Education and the Katherine A. Kendall Institute (KAKI) collaborate to offer the International Social Work Leader Review. Each quarter the Review features an individual who has made significant contributions to international social work education with ties to the United States. In the spirit of Katherine A. Kendall’s life and work, these highlighted leaders are recognized as influencers in the global social work community whose efforts have made important advancements in social work education and practice.

Sattareh Farman Farmaian (1921–2010)

farmaian.jpgSattareh Farman Farmaian, the founder of social work as a profession in Iran, was born in 1921 at the end of the Qajar dynasty. She came to the United States in 1944 and was the first Iranian student to attend the University of Southern California. There she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Farman Farmaian realized early in her MSW program that it was her mission to establish social work as a profession in Iran.

After earning her MSW in 1948, she held several positions in the United States, including one at a settlement house for immigrants in Los Angeles, CA. Later she worked for the United Nations as a Middle East expert stationed in Bagdad, Iraq. In 1958 she established the Tehran School of Social Work, which in essence undertook the duties of the Ministry of Welfare. Farman Farmaian developed the profession to fit the cultural and religious context in Iran, even coining the Farsi term for social worker madadacar (“one who helps”).
Read more about Sattareh Farman Farmaian here.                                                   

Sattareh Farman Farmaian & Katherine A. Kendall