International Day of Elimination of Racial Disrilmination

by ERIO on April 2nd, 2012

Empowerment of Roma women must become a reality

Women’s rights have been on the agenda of numerous institutions and governments for decades. Although there is much to celebrate, we are still a long way from achieving gender equality in Europe and beyond. Oppression of women is still a current issue, especially for some groups such as Roma women who, throughout Europe, bear the burden of multiple and intersectional discrimination, social exclusion and poverty due to anti-Gypsyism. On this significant day, ERIO believes it is important to celebrate the efforts of those working for the emancipation and empowerment of Roma women. However, we also believe that it is vital to remind us that gender equality remains a significant challenge. In some countries, Roma women continue to experience extreme forms of human rights violations.

ERIO’s Board member and MEP Lívia Járóka states: “Research identifies Roma women as the most vulnerable group in European society. They encounter more serious problems than Roma men or ethnic majority women, due to the everyday multiple discrimination they face, fuelled by widespread stereotypes. Many Roma girls fail to complete even primary education and the unacceptably large gap in completing secondary school amounts to 60% in some regions of the EU. Most Roma women do not enjoy full respect for their freedom of choice in matters concerning the most fundamental decisions of their lives, and are thus thwarted in their ability to exercise their fundamental human rights. The objectives of gender equality, such as the fulfilment of fundamental rights, economic independence, reconciliation of private and professional life, equal representation, eradication of violence, and the elimination of stereotypes, are far from achieved and thus need to be further pursued ”. 

ERIO urges the EU and member states to improve the socio-economic status of Roma women. While equal access to quality education is a key factor to enhance Roma women’s empowerment and gender equality in employment, it is not enough unless anti-Gypsyism is also addressed. ERIO calls on the EU and member states to ensure the participation of Roma women at all levels of decision-making. European societies will only become inclusive and democratic when all women, including the Roma, fully participate in public life and their fundamental rights are guaranteed.

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