Draft Recovery and Resilience Plan of Bulgaria

Draft Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Republic of Bulgaria

Integro Association held a special seminar to discuss the draft Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) with a wide range of representatives of Roma communities, Community Action Groups, municipal officials and local authorities who participate in the ROMACT Program of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

The seminar made the following recommendations for the draft RRP of Bulgaria:

  1. The Plan needs to be developed in a more detailed way, setting specific goals and activities to achieve concrete results. It is also necessary to develop a more detailed justification of the defined objectives and measures and a system of clear and measurable indicators that would allow accurate reporting of the results achieved and the impacts of the measures taken. The Plan must, in particular, identify potential beneficiaries and users of resources under the various programmes and projects.
  2. The scope of individuals and families in disadvantaged situations must include vulnerable ethnic groups, which are very much affected by the Covid-19 crisis, while at the same time being excluded from measures taken to mitigate the effects of the crisis. It is necessary to plan specific measures to address the problems of these groups especially in small settlements, as so far they are neither included in the developed Operational Programs nor in the current Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP).
  3. When planning energy efficiency measures, it is necessary to focus primarily on the state of buildings of energy-poor families; only for them public funding should be 100% of the grant. At the same time, activities and resources should be provided for these families to switch to more environmentally friendly heating sources.
  4. Expand the scope and the allocated resources for social economy by planning a separate financial line aimed at starting and developing social enterprises to create sustainable employment for long-term unemployed Roma community members, for Roma women and youth. They should be involved especially in environmental and nature protection spheres, as this type of activities will contribute to the objectives of the Green Deal. This will not only create sustainable employment for these groups, but will also improve their social inclusion and participation in the economic life of the country. The plan should envisage eligibility of municipalities and non-governmental organizations representing the most vulnerable Roma communities for the establishment of social economy enterprises.
  5. The Plan should provide a special line for financing the construction of a water supply system in neighborhoods where families with children and elderly people have been living for decades without access to clean drinking water. This should not be subject to the requirement for the number of population units, because access to drinking water is a basic human rights and constitutes one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The full text of the position can be found here.

Antigypsyism politically recognised in the Netherlands

Antigypsyism politically recognised in the Netherlands

Together with my colleague Andreia Nicolic, who is chair of the Roma Utrecht Foundation & the Roma Advocacy Network Netherlands, we have been working for almost for 20 years as volunteer activists from the Roma grassroots level. In October 2020 a motion by Selçuk Öztürk on antigypsyism and how to combat this injustice has been adopted by the majority of the Dutch National Parliament.

Mr Öztürk is a Member of Parliament of the political party DENK, a party that focuses strongly on combatting racism and injustice. More than 75 years after the Roma Genocide/Roma Holocaust of the Second World War, antigypsyism finally has been officially recognized, hence we can take further steps to tackling it. This political recognition thanks to Mr Öztürk’s motion obligates the Dutch government to improve the legal position of Roma. We know from our advocacy’s perspective  that we have to stay on top of this to make sure that improvements shall be put into practice. In addition, our community-led and advocacy role surely has been strengthened, so from now on we shall have more influence in decision-making processes. There is still a long way to go but this has been a first significant and crucial political step.

Also at local level in Utrecht a motion of DENK Utrecht (of the same political party) on antigypsyism and how to combat this has been adopted, thanks to Mahmut Sungur and Ismail El Abassi, who are the local representatives.

Grassroots activism is crucial to make change happen – together with our political friends we shall intensify our networks whilst continuing our strife against antigypsyism, statelessness and any other injustice, for now and for our future generations.

©Michelle Mila V. Burik Bihari, Advocacy Coordinator Roma Utrecht & Roma Advocacy Network Netherlands, March 2021

News from Slovo 21

News from Czech ERGO member Slovo 21

Invisible Power Coalition

Migrant and Roma women in the Czech Republic and other parts of Europe face economic and social inequalities and live in a position particularly vulnerable to violence and discrimination. Compared to most women in the Czech society, these women are often at higher risk of social exclusion, live under worse material conditions, and have a lower quality of life. The problems of these women are often overlooked, which is why the Invisible Power coalition, with the support of the German EVZ Foundation, was founded—to give these women space to be seen and heard. The coalition represents a collaborative effort of the Czech Women’s Lobby (CWL) and its member organizations Association for Integration and Migration (SIMI) and SLOVO 21, under which the Roma women’s group Manushe operates.

The Invisible Power focused on two levels of support for Roma and migrant women. The first was to involve these women in a network of women’s rights organizations and to strengthen mutual solidarity also between women from disadvantaged groups. Secondly, we wanted to raise public awareness of the situation these groups of women find themselves in. Another equally important goal was to strengthen the self-esteem of these women through self-expression, especially by means of storytelling during events organized for the general public, writing articles about their stories, and participating in public debates.

The project provided women without self-esteem with space for self-expression and made it possible for Roma and migrant women to be seen and heard at 4 public events, 5 thematic meetings, 3 networking meetings, and 1 conference, alongside other media outputs and networking meetings. A total of 34 migrant women and 148 Roma women took part in these activities.

The article is available here.

 

ROMA ORGANIZATIONS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN FOR CENSUS: ME SOM ROM, ME SOM ROMŇI, AMEN SAM ROMA! A SO TU?

The umbrella organization RomanoNet, in cooperation with other organizations (including Slovo 21, z.s.), has prepared an online campaign to reach out to Roma to declare their Roma nationality at this year’s Census of Population, Housing and Dwellings or to use Romani as their mother tongue.

The campaign responds to the low awareness of Roma men and women in connection with the Census 2021 and also refutes the myths that are spreading among the Roma themselves about the census.

The campaign is based on videos in which Romani men and women explain why, in their opinion, it is essential to state Romani nationality in the census form and Romani as their mother tongue. The videos are then placed on the website www.amensamroma.cz and are shared on social networks. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign takes place exclusively in the online space.

(Article in Czech is available here )

NEW PROJECT ANDROMEDIA – IN MEDIA

The Romani culture and arts are a part of the national, European and world cultural and artistic space, and it keeps growing and developing constantly. There is a new generation of young educated artists and performers active in the area of music, dance, new media, arts, alternative arts, theatre and literature. Unfortunately, there is a substantial lack of interest and knowledge of critics who would be able to approach critically to Romani culture and arts.

The AndroMedia (in English “In Media”) project contributes to dealing with this problem and supports to development of artistic critical reviewing through interdisciplinary activities including several workshops, seminars, discussions with audience and experts, in both direct and online communication.

Project activities will help develop participants’ capacities in culture as they improve competencies of future critics – students of journalism and ethnomusicology, and Romani writers. The project also implements Audience Development Strategies and launches the Online Discussion Forum which will contribute to social dialogue.

Project is supported by EHP Fonds 2014 – 2021, Culture program. Project duration: 1.12.2020 – 30.4.2022.

 

STRENGTHENING THE CAPACITIES OF ROMA AND PRO-ROMA ADVOCACY ACTORS

Everyone should have the knowledge to influence and improve their lives in society. Only a society in which everyone has a voice, including minorities, can be considered democratic.

Based on the experience gained so far, we are coming up with a new project “Strengthening the capacities of Roma and pro-Roma actors in the field of advocacy”, which will focus on strengthening the competencies of employees of the organization Slovo 21, z.s. in the field of advocacy, so that the Roma are able to participate well in the integration process in 4 selected cities (Náchod, Budišov nad Budišovkou, Rokycany, Prague).

The employee expects 8 half-day theoretical trainings and 16 half-day practical workshops (2 trainings and 4 workshops in each locality) in the field of advocacy activities. The participants will then be permanently supported by experts in the form of tailor-made consultations.

We will establish cooperation with members of the local Roma community, who in cooperation with us will participate in solving the integration of Roma into the local level and other local Roma and pro-Roma non-profit organizations.