RIISE Coordination Meeting

RIISE Coordination Meeting

Several ERGO Network members and also new partners met in February for our annual ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’ (RIISE) coordination meeting.

ERGO Network is implementing a four-year work programme funded by the EaSI Programme of the European Commission’s DG Employment in order to support the social inclusion and poverty reduction of Roma in EU member states and provide a bridge between the grassroots and the EU level concerning Roma-related policies and funding programmes.

An important part of the work programme is implemented on national level in the ‘Big 5’, the EU member states with the highest Roma population. With the financial support of the European Commission through the RIISE work programme, ERGO Network members coordinate national Roma civil society coalitions, support Roma activists to engage in and benefit from Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), conduct research and inform Roma activists about relevant EU developments.

During the coordination meeting held in Brussels, representatives of the ERGO Network members Integro Association (Bulgaria), Nevo Parudimos (Romania), Slovo 21 (Czech Republic), Autonomia Foundation and Pro Cseherat (Hungary) as well as our partners RomanoNet (Czech Republic) and Idetartozunk (Hungary) came together for two days to discuss their work.

Among other things they shared updates on the development of national Roma Inclusion Strategies and Operational Programs and strategized together how best to influence them. They learned more about how to engage in the EU’s European Semester process and discussed common work on Social Economy. The partners will work together closely during the year and meet again in November.

Activities of FAGIC

National Training – Roma Youth Voice

FAGIC has been chosen to implement on national level in Spain the activities of the European project “Roma Youth Voices” led by Phiren Amenca and TernYpe. In the framework of the project we organized a National Training course about social and political participation for Roma youngsters from all Spain in February 2020. The aim of the project is to empower young people to ensure a more effective participation of young Roma in the political life. Roma youth is the future and they need to be aware of it!

You can follow the development of the project here: https://www.facebook.com/RomaYouthVoices/

 

R-HOME: Focus groups

FAGIC is currently developing a project about housing called R-HOME (Roma, Housing, Opportunities, Mobility and Empowerment). The project aims to analyze the situation of housing for Roma people in 5 different countries (Italy, France, Spain, Romania and Hungary). To do so we are taking part in a transnational investigation on housing .You can find more information on the project here: https://rhome.caritasambrosiana.it/

In the framework of the research activities we have led two focus groups with experts, representatives of the local Roma community and other organizations working on housing for people in marginal situations.

Railway assistants in Slovakia

Railway assistants – antigypsyism in employment programme

In October 2019, Slovak Railway Company announced the implementation of a new project called ‘Train Assistant’. This project created a new position in the railway company for people from marginalized Roma communities. Together with other organizations and activists, the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RARC) appealed to the railway company as well as to the Implementation agency of the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family to stop this project because it carries signs of antigypsism. As our attempts were not heard, we sent a letter to the European Commission’s DG Employment with a notice on this project. In February 2020, we received a response from DG Employment, which you can see below. We consider it important that DG Employment has requested an external interim impact assessment of the project (which will start in January 2020 and will continue for 24 months) within the first 6 months of its implementation. The interim external assesment shall focus in particular on the aspects which we raised in our complaint: risks of maintaining or worsening any form of discrimination, stigmatization of Roma and antigypsism, impact on employment perspective of participants including their career progression towards non-assistant type of jobs (train conductors), synergies and possible overlaps with the local civil order services and field social work.

We believe that such projects should not be presented as the only employment opportunities for marginalized groups, as their inclusive character is highly questionable.

Case studies of ERGO members

Case studies of ERGO Network members

During 2019, in the framework of our EaSI funded work programme ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’ (RIISE) ERGO Network members in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary conducted case studies to shed light on specific challenges relating to Roma integration in their countries.

In Slovakia, the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre looked into the challenge of indebtedness of Roma and how a change in the bankruptcy law, which was not particularly focused at Roma, greatly improved their financial inclusion. You can read the case study here.

In Hungary, Autonomia Foundation spoke to mid-sized employers in one region of the country to learn more about their attitude towards employees of Romani origin and their employment and hiring capacity of Romani workers. Read the case study here.

Our Bulgarian member Integro Association discusses the impact of EU Operational Programs on the shrinking Roma civil society in Bulgaria. Read Integro’s case study here.

Finally, our Romanian member organization Nevo Parudimos explored the phenomenon of school drop-out or early school-leaving as well as to identify its reasons among disadvantaged young Roma aged 14–22, who failed to complete lower and/or upper secondary education. Antigypsyism inside the classroom and persistent poverty and difficult living conditions are the two main causes for early school dropout, which need to be countered by positive government measures. Read the full study here.

Peer educators combatting antigypsyism online

Peer educators combatting antigypsyism online in time of a pandemic

– A new internet era for Roma youth will begin soon!

Living in the era of web 2.0, soon to be 3.0 sure has its advantages. Everything that we need, want and desire is just a click away (literally)! However, it is as well a  vivid example of how technologies with a transformative potential such as the Internet bring with them both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities in terms of exercising freedom of expression, and on the other hand the challenges of defending  human dignity online. This being said, we are left with something called Online hate speech.[1]

Having this in mind, ERGO Network and its partners from 10 European countries (Integro Bulgaria, Nevo Parudimos Romania, FAGiC Spain, Romaversitas Hungary, RomanoNet Czech Republic, Roma Active Albania, RROMA North Macedonia, Chiricli Ukraine, Upre Roma Italy, La Voix des Rroms France) are starting to implement the project called PECAO – Peer education to counter antigypsyist hate speech online supported by DG Justice and Google.Org for the next 24 months.

Knowing that hate speech as a manifestation of antigypsyism needs particular attention because of its multiplier effect, where it influences public opinion, fuels tension and paves the way for discrimination and hate crimes, the consortium of the project manages to bring clear objectives to the table:

  1. To reach out to at least 2000 young people in Spain, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Italy, France, North Macedonia and Albania through peer education activities in universities or youth clubs to raise their awareness of the adverse impact of hate speech on Roma and to empower them to recognize and report hate speech online.
  2. To empower 50 young Roma peer educators in 10 countries to monitor hate speech in online media and report cases of hate speech to IT companies, national equality bodies and relevant state institutions to reinforce implementation of anti-discrimination legislation. Their work will lead to national datasets of at least 150 cases, as well as at least 50 reported cases.
  3. To advocate towards national and EU decision-makers for anti-discrimination policies that take into account the online sphere as well as antigypsyism as a bias motivation for hate speech and hate crime.
  4. To use the experiences of peer educators and results of the monitoring to raise awareness of other stakeholders (wider civil society, educational practitioners, young people) of antigypsyist hate speech in online media and the urgency to counteract.

The target group are young Roma peer educators and other young people, as they are primary users of social media and often lack media literacy and critical thinking. Indirectly, the project targets Roma people across Europe who will benefit from reduced hate speech, which impacts negatively on their well-being and their position in society.

Working online enables the partners to be innovative and use peer education to reach a high number of young people, with young Roma themselves being the peer educators. At the same time as educating their peers and raising their awareness of antigypsyist hate speech, they will automatically also act as role models for other young people. The project combines peer education and media monitoring in order to obtain two-fold results: the peer education methodology can achieve a direct change in attitudes and actions of a high number of young people, and the monitoring will contribute to better understanding and a more systemic change of policies through advocacy based on the results.

Having in mind the pandemic COVID-19 that is spreading cross out Europe, the PECAO partners are starting to organize their work online, taking into consideration their well-being and the safety of their community. The main focus this period is utilizing platforms such as ZOOM for online meetings and preparation, setting up the foreseen calls for peer educators and mentors. And for the first time, ERGO will try to host an online Kick-Off meeting and bring in the partners, by having a nice agenda and working plan for a couple of days in April! Updates on how it goes will follow soon!

Meanwhile, many ERGO members are following protocols regarding the pandemic COVID-19, as well as helping the Roma community by sharing information, products they need and by staying organized, safe and well!

[1] Online hate speech is a type of speech that takes place online, generally social media or the internet, with the purpose of attacking a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.