ERGO’s Annual Members Meeting 2020

ERGO’s online Annual Members Meeting 2020

This year ERGO Network’s Annual Members Neeting took place under unique circumstances, forcing us to move online and to create as much exchange and networking on an online platform.

From 2-4 December 2020, ERGO Network met on Zoom with its members to analyze the work that has been done, reflect on this year’s special situation and how it impacted our work with Roma communities, and to deliberate about ERGO Network engagement in the upcoming years.

One afternoon was dedicated to building membership capacity, focusing this year on making the best use of online working environments and wellbeing of staff during the pandemic.

The meeting also provided the basis for a new 10-year strategic plan, while also introducing final steps for legally moving ERGO Network to Belgium.

The first day started with a welcome from Director Gabriela Hrabanova,  board co-chair Daniel Stanislav and vice-chair Adriatik Hasantari. The board praised the flexibility, collectiveness and connectedness of the members during such an uncertain and though year.

During this day, participants attended breakout rooms designed to provide with updates and project presentations. Each of the four rooms, moderated by staff and members of ERGO Network, tackled ERGO’s core working areas of 2020, such as  Roma in post-2020 European Frameworks, a Covid-19 study, our work on employment and the new projects “New Solutions to Old Problems” (NSOP) and “Peer education to counter antigypsyist hate speech online” (PECAO).

The second day invited participants to two working groups on employment and data collection. Amana Ferro and Carmen Tănasie from the ERGO Network Secretariat in Brussels provided participants with updates regarding the state of play of current and upcoming employment work, covering the main EU policy frameworks and the specific actions under the Youth Guarantee and ERGO Network’s Employment Campaign.

Isabela Mihalache, Senior Policy Officer, helped the participants to understand better the role of data collection in the delivery of our advocacy work.

The third day  started with sharing about the past and looking at the present in order to set the ground for planning our future. The statutes of a new legal organization was discussed and agreement was reached to move the organization officially to Belgium.

Members then had an open space to share where they see ERGO now and where they want to see it in the future, laying the ground for the start of a 10 year strategy.

 

The new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against Antigypsyism in the Western Balkans

The new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against Antigypsyism in the Western Balkans

Despite limitation due to the pandemic of COVID 19, Roma Active Albania kept an active role in advocating for Roma inclusion in the Enlargement countries of the Western Balkans.

Combining distant working with field work, RAA coordinates the  partners of the regional project “Romani Women, Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey”, in following their national plans and providing information from the grassroots  level to ERGO’s study on the impact of COVID 19 on Roma communities.

Thanks to the financial support of the European Union through the European Commission’s DG NEAR, RAA has been working jointly with its partners in the Western Balkans and Turkey to implement the components of the project “Romani Women, Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey”. The last months focused on building synergies in regional advocacy in the context of the new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against antigypsyism.

RAA actively contributed to the organisation of the event “The new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against Antigypsyism in the Western Balkans”, which took place on 4 November 2020 via the Zoom platform.

This virtual conference addressed strategies and measures to combat antigypsyism and to strengthen Roma empowerment and participation in the Western Balkans in the context of the new “EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation” for 2020-2030. The conference brought together governments, international organizations and civil society representatives from all countries in the Western Balkan region.

The new EU Framework guides the commitment of EU Member States and defines the core policy for Roma equality, inclusion and participation in the accession and neighbourhood countries. A key priority of the new framework is to recognize and to fight antigypsyism as the root cause of discrimination and social exclusion. Combatting antigypsyism should be done in a combined approach as a stand-alone task and as cross-cutting issue in the priority areas education, employment, housing and basic services, health and poverty, and keeping a special focus on Roma Women empowerment.

Following this event, RAA participated in and coordinated three national virtual conferences on the same topic, addressing the realities and challenges in Kosovo, Serbia and Albania.

These conferences were organised by Roma Active Albania, ERGO Network and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, in partnership with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement and with support of the European Union and German Federal Foreign Office.

Intercultural Achievement Award for Roma Active Albania

Intercultural Achievement Award for Roma Active Albania

ERGO Member Roma Active Albania won the recognition award in the Intercultural Achievement Award (IAA) 2020 organised by the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs with  the project “EU Award on Roma Integration 2019 – Unknown Heroes”. The project was organised  in partnership with the European Commission, DG NEAR and supported by the European Union. Participation in different conferences and seminars, as well the work of the partners in the Western Balkans and Turkey have positioned Roma women as a key factor in scoring tangible results in the Roma integration agenda. The award have brought additional recognition to the wider area of women empowerment.

The project honors women who brought tangible impact for Roma integration and empowerment in the Western Balkans and Turkey and provided political leverage enriching the policy dialogue of Roma integration with the cross-cutting issue of women empowerment.

The project got recognition in a competition of 300 entries from 41 countries under the category “Recent events” and a certificate for the recognition was delivered to Roma Active Albania in the Austrian Embassy in Tirana.

Through this award steps such as by setting up and running non-profit organisations and community centres, combatting violence against women, fighting early marriages, facilitating women to access to their legal rights, etc. received the deserved recognition as a way of improving the integration of Roma minority by acting locally.