OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

ERGO Network voices major steps to take to achieve true leadership and participation and to combat antigypsyism at the 2019 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Our Policy and Research Coordinator Jelena Jovanovic recently took part in the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) annual human rights conference: the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM). She read a statement on Roma participation and leadership and presented the work on developing concrete measures to combat antigypsyism, measures the Alliance against Antigypsyism proposes to the EU institutions and EU Member States as well as Candidate Countries.

During the working session ‘Roma and Sinti participation in public and political life’, Jelena Jovanovic spoke about participation as a human right and pointed out that committing to the empowerment of a systematically disempowered group to achieve true participation in various societal and political affairs would play a crucial role in advancing democratic governance, the rule of law and socio-economic development. ERGO Network called upon the OSCE Participating States to develop measures with direct Roma empowerment as an objective, to envision and foster quality participation at all levels and all stages of policy making, to develop national policies addressing Roma participation by positive actions, including in administrative personnel, while being conscious that Roma should not only be part of processes narrowly defined as ‘Roma issues’.

We also urged the Participating States to devise tools and resources for empowering grassroots organisations, to develop indicators to measure the frequency and quality of Roma participation and leadership and to contribute to diversifying Roma participation while embracing an understanding that besides ‘women’s’ and ‘youth issues’, Roma women and youth have diverse expertise and should also occupy high level positions. ERGO strongly emphasised that the same understanding should be applied to other social groups on the intersections of different categories of difference such as sexuality, class, disability, geographical location. Marginalised groups’ representation affects other people in similar positions to get more confidence to voice their needs.

During the side event focusing on “Racism, intolerance and violence against Roma and Sinti in the OSCE area”, we explained challenges with regards to legislation, policy development and concrete interventions. Many civil society organisations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, United Nations and other institutions and organisations highlight the persistent antigypsyism at all levels of European society, despite the efforts undertaken under strategies and action plans for Roma and national legislative frameworks against discrimination and hate crime.

ERGO Network called upon OSCE participating states to take stock of the situation and adopt complementary policy measures to respond to the challenges experienced by Roma in Europe. We suggested specific measures in terms of recognising present and historical responsibility and improving institutional frameworks, collecting data and monitoring antigypsyism and enabling access to justice.

You can read here our statements on participation and leadership and on combating antigypsyism and the ODIHR Third Status Report from 2018 focusing on participation in public and political life.

 

New school year for OTAHARIN

New school year for Otaharin

102 elementary school students in Bijeljina (Bosnia & Herzegovina) received school bags, materials and textbooks from  ERGO Network member Otaharin as an incentive to study well in this new school year.

One of the most important activities of the Association is emphasizing the enrollment of children in the first grade of school. This year, we enrolled 18 Roma children and organized a preparatory program for them during the summer months. Also, as every year, we support 12 high school students through purchasing of textbooks, school supplies and school bags.

Having a baby, needing to beg or to do housework are just some why young people drop out of school early. Our goal is to teach both children and parents that primary education is compulsory and that as many children as possible should return to school. The place for children should be the school, not the streets.

The provision of textbooks, school bags and school supplies was supported by our long-standing partners and donors CARE Deutschland e.V., Save the Children in the North West Balkans and Schüler Helfen Leben.

In September Otaharin also had the honour of hosting a delegation of the Parish of the Protestant Church from Grossberen (Germany).

For more than 15 years, representatives of this parish organise collections for the most vulnerable residents of Bijeljina and Živinice. This humanitarian aid is distributed to people in social need in cooperation with the Red Cross of the City of Bijeljina, the Centre for Social Work in Bijeljina and Otaharin.

The delegation of the Parish pays special attention to the first graders of Roma origin who, in addition to humanitarian packages, are also provided with special gifts for the beginning of the school. This year more than 250 children from the City of Živinice received humanitarian aid.

Our association and many socially disadvantaged families owe great gratitude to these humane people for their dedicated humanitarian work and dedication.

Humanity, as one of the qualities we can rarely feel and see, is shown year after year by our friends, representatives of the Parish of the Protestant Church of Grossberen. For 16 years, these good people have been collecting clothes, hygiene products, school supplies and toys for the socially disadvantaged people in the towns of Bijeljina and Živinice.

Sustainable Development Goals for Roma Inclusion

Have you ever heard of the Sustainable Development Goals? Don’t know what this has to do with Roma? Then check out our report ‘Roma Included: In the Sustainable Development Goals that ERGO Network published in 2019.

Just want to have a glimpse on what is inside? Then check out our short video summarising the report.

 

The objective of the report is to trigger debate among Roma activists on how to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than three years after the proclamation of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs can provide opportunities for advancing the inclusion of Roma and for countering antigypsyism. Almost all of the 17 global goals are closely connected to the needs of Roma comunities – from accessing clean drinking water and affordable energy to quality education and employment, from reducing inequalities to peace, justice and strong institutions.

 

Save the Date

Before the summer break, we are announcing the dates for some important events in the second half of the year. Mark the dates in your calendar – more information will follow soon!

20-23 October: Annual Members Meeting in Skopje, North Macedonia

20 October: Meetings of the ERGO Network Board, Advisory Committee and Working Groups (Skopje, North Macedonia)

25-27 November: Coordination meeting of ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’ programme (Brussels)

25 November: ERGO Network conference on ‘Education: how to achieve policy change in hostile environments?’ (Brussels)

Towards a more holistic approach to Roma inclusion

Towards a more holistic approach to Roma inclusion in the EU: stronger policy mainstreaming and focus

The long term perspective of the Roma inclusion process implies that, at this stage, expecting major socioeconomic impact of the Roma integration process is premature. Although the necessary policies, tools and structures linked with the inclusion of Roma were put in place in the Member States, the actual implementation is still at an initial phase without mainstreaming them in the EU general policy initiatives.

Existing assessments of implementation of the social inclusion policies and programmes at EU and national level revealed that the policies and programs did not reach marginalised groups, and did not manage to improve the situation of Roma. This is why ERGO Network, with contributions from its allies, published a policy paper that provides specific recommendations on possible ways of mainstreaming Roma inclusion in the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework and post 2020 EU Roma Framework, key recommendations for the mainstream policies, and finally, not only initiatives/actions that should be taken by the European Commission, but also those that should be taken by Member States.