Advocacy Training for Romani Women
In cooperation with the Network Women's Program of OSI, CEU's Center for Policy Studies hosted in December 2004 a two-day training course for Roma women leaders from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovakia. The workshop focused on developing policy areas and issues relevant for Roma women across the region, as well as on locating Roma women's issues in the framework of European Union institutions and policies.
Participants came with the local knowledge collected through their work with local NGO-s and/or state authorities in the given countries, but also relied on their international experience developed through Roma Women's Initiative (RWI), exposure to EU institutions and other initiatives as well.
CPS staff members Andrea Krizsan, Herta Toth and Viola Zentai contributed their experience gained in various gender- and ethnic minority related policy fields; Debra Schultz represented the Network Women's Program from OSI-New York and Angela Kocze, former head of the European Roma Information Office (ERIO) in Brussels also attended the training.
As a result of this training, participants began to elaborate their strategy for the hearing in front of the Women's Committee of the European Parliament, held in 2005.
The public hearing at the European Parliament on the plight of Roma women in Europe was held on November 23, 2005. Members of the Women's Rights Committee agreed that new policies and tangible measures are needed to tackle the problems these women face in both western and eastern European countries. There was a consensus that the position of Roma women as a forgotten and invisible minority must be changed. The hearing was timed to contribute to an own-initiative report drafted by Lívia Járóka (EPP-ED, HU), dealing with the most burning issues, including segregated education, access to health care, the marginal position of Roma women in the labor market, social exclusion, anti-gypsism based on prejudice, sterilization and multiple forms of discrimination. The rapporteur hoped the report will have a positive impact on EU policy on Roma women. "We want all institutions to put Roma women high on the agenda," she stressed. The chairwoman of the committee, Anna Záborská (EPP-ED, SK), noted that "after the enlargement with ten new Member States, the Roma became the most significant minority in the European Union". In her opinion, Roma women are marginalized and special attention must be paid to them. "We must make sure that the gap and lagging behind is tackled," MEP Zita Gurmai (PSE, HU) said. Karin Resetarits (ALDE, AT) added: "We need a major campaign just for the Roma women". Several speakers said that Roma women suffered double ethnic and gender discrimination. There was broad agreement that these women constitute a forgotten and invisible minority and that measures are urgently needed to deal with their situation.