by John Trajer, ERIO on September 14th, 2016

The EU Commission’s report emphasises a need for “more focus on Roma youth” in measures promoting Roma participation, stating that “[t]he situation of Roma children remains particularly worrying” with regards to exclusion.

To promote the “active citizenship” of Roma it points to a number of cultural projects, including its own transnational awareness-raising campaign entitled ‘for Roma with Roma’. This aims at fighting anti-Roma stereotypes through working with media, promoting cultural understanding, and supporting twinning projects between local authorities. It also contains elements related more specifically to youth education and the arts that are directly relatable to the META project, such as the organisation of school drawing competitions. 

Under examples of approaches relating to Roma inclusion strategies in the various EU Member States, the report identifies ‘culture’ as an “additional area not covered under the EU Framework or the Recommendation”. Under this title the report enumerates a number of initiatives aimed at the inclusion of young Roma through artistic projects.

One such initiative is the Museum of Roma Culture in Bucharest, Romania. This is funded privately by Ciprien Necule, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Culture, according to whom a number of “craft classes” and “children’s programmes” will be organised at the museum.[1] [although this museum was severely damaged in a fire in December 2015]

Another project detailed in the report is a “targeted photo project” organised by the civil society organisation ‘MTÜ Ambulartoorium’ in Estonia, 2015. So as to fight discrimination and increase public understanding of young Roma, Roma children and youths were given cameras and took pictures of what they considered important or interesting, and wrote a story to accompany these photos. This project, organised by photographer Annika Haas (responsible for the travelling “We, the Roma” documentary photo exhibition), will be showcased online later in 2016. More details can be found at http://romachildren.ee/en/projektist/.

[1] http://www.roconsulboston.com/Pages/InfoPages/Culture/RomaMuseum.html


by ERIO on September 9th, 2016

On the 2nd of September, ERIO took part in a public hearing titled “Roma women’s participation in public life”, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Participants included members of the European Parliament, representatives of the Council of Europe, European Commission, European Economic and Social Committee, and other key civil society organisations were present at the event.
 
The hearing highlighted the need to develop ideas on how to improve the participation of Roma women in public life as this being considered to be the key element that could lead to their inclusion in society.
 
ERIO’s senior policy officer, Marta Pinto, stressed the need to empower Roma women and ensure their full active participation in society. “Roma women’s participation in the social, cultural and political fields is part of democracy and essential for the successful inclusion of Roma communities and for achieving an equal society.”, she said. Roma women “encounter more serious obstacles than Roma men and non-Roma women due to the everyday multiple discrimination they face, fuelled by widespread stereotypes and anti-Gypsyism which affect the possibilities for their participation in society.”, she added. She then presented the main factors that causes Roma women`s exclusion from public life such as gender and racial discrimination; high level of poverty; segregated settlements; low levels of education, high unemployment rates, human rights violation, non-compliance of EU anti-discrimination legislation, inadequate investment in measures targeting Roma women, and lack of demographic data disaggregated by gender and ethnicity.
 
During the hearing, our KeyRoma project was presented as a positive practice. Daniela Novac, one of the participants in the project training organised by ERIO explained how the project helped Roma women to develop skills to participate in society.

You can read the full presentation here.


by ERIO on June 29th, 2016

Even though many social economy projects have been implemented already in Belgium, the Roma community still lacks knowledge about these issues and possibilities. It appears evident that as a socially and economically excluded community, the Roma would greatly benefit from social entrepreneurship as a way to empower themselves both in a social and economic way.

The interviews carried out in Belgium were done in the context of the SERCo project and they teach us different things and give us different points of view regarding this specific subject. Both of our Roma interviewees (a Roma community leader and a Roma NGO), showed the current gap existing between the Roma and social economy. As persons specialized in Roma issues, being of Roma origin and having worked with Roma for a long time, they showed us how social entrepreneurship is still a minor concern in the community and how information about it still takes time to spread. On the contrary, our interview with a representative of “Pour la Solidarité”, has highlighted that much has still to be done from the social economy networks to address specifically the Roma issue. As a non-profit organization specialized in social economy, they have been linked to projects where Roma were concerned but never specifically targeted. This situation creates a vicious circle where very few Roma are either aware or trained in this domain; hence their visibility being very poor, the relevant networks or organizations concerned by social economy do not tackle enough the problems this community faces.

It can then be argued that both parties (the Roma community and the social economy organizations) still have to bring their concerns closer to each another and try to work out solutions by working closely together. This means better collaboration, information, training and knowledge. Knowledge about the Roma community from social economy organizations and knowledge of the benefits of social economy, from the Roma community.       


by ERIO on March 9th, 2016

We have several copies of the following books to give away for free. However, we cannot pay for delivery. Interested people need to collect them at our office (see address here) or pay for postage charges. You can contact us by email at office@erionet.eu

See the full list of books here.

by Eleonora Mancinotti, ERIO on October 26th, 2015

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) released its fifth report on Estonia on the 13th October. ECRI is an independent organ of the Council of Europe and assesses main trends in racism and discrimination issues in the Council’s member states. The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is pleased to present ECRI’s findings related to the Roma population, which was treated in a dedicated section.

In this fifth report ECRI observes that the implementation of the Integration Strategy 2008-2013 has produced notable effects and national studies confirm that progress has been made. Nevertheless, ECRI believes that it is necessary to have a more meticulous analysis that could draw on the recommendations made in the 4th cycle regarding integration issues, including the situation of the Roma, and the methodologies that could be adopted to address them.

With regards to hate speech, ECRI underlined that racist comments on the Internet news portals and the under-reporting of cases of racial hatred or violence are a source of concern. According to the information given by the Estonian authorities, the judicial authorities have investigated five offences of incitement to hatred since 2010.

ECRI recommends that the Estonian authorities amend the Article 151 of the Criminal Code, removing the restriction whereby an offence cannot be deemed to have taken place unless it is proven that it entails a risk to the health, life or property of the victim. Another improvement that the authorities should implement is the adoption of a system to collect data and produce statistics of the cases of racist hate speech and violence brought to the attention of the police and/or being pursued through the courts.

As regards awareness-raising, the campaign “Diversity enriches” has produced a guide to promote broad public familiarity with the Equal Treatment Act in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs. ECRI underlines the importance of organising an extensive campaign to inform and raise awareness among the Estonian community about racist hate speech, the legal framework covering this field, and procedures for reporting or filing complaints against instances of such speech.

ECRI welcomes an important initiative inspired by its recommendations on combating the prejudices affecting the Roma. On October 2013 an exhibition opened entitled “We, the Roma” which has been implemented with the aim of promoting the uniqueness of the Roma trying to dispel the myths and stereotypes attributed to this ethnic group.

Concerning the urgency of removing Roma children who do not have special needs from special schools highlighted in ECRI’s 4th report, Estonian authorities have reported that only one Roma child was in a special school, further to a medical diagnosis. Moreover, the authorities have informed that in autumn 2014 the Ministry of Education and Research carried out a two-year project of educational counselling for teachers in order to keep Roma children who have a medical diagnosis of “mild intelligence challenge” in mainstream schools. ECRI reiterates its recommendations to the Estonian authorities to take measures to ensure that Roma children who do not have special needs are no longer placed in special schools.
 
You can read the full report here.



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