50th International Roma Day

Today, on 8 April, we celebrate the 50th International Roma Day!

While the roots of Romani activism go back to the 19th century, the 8th April 1971 constitutes a turning point for Roma communities around the world, when activists moved their struggle to the international arena with the first World Romani Congress held near London. The day means for us a celebration of our culture, language and the endurance to keep our identity alive. The First Congress promoted the Roma symbols used as tools for unification and political mobilization, such as the umbrella term ‘Roma’, the Romani flag, the slogan Opre Roma! (Roma Arise!) our anthem (Djelem djelem) and national day (8 April).

The Congress was a catalyst of a new generation of Roma activists who worked together to fight against antigypsyism that we experience day in, day out.

From slavery to sponsored policies of extermination and eradication of our traditional culture, to forced settlement and resettlement, ethnic cleansing, assimilation, and sterilization of Romani women, all these persecutions led to the current situation of Roma across the world, where we continue to be perceived in a dehumanising way, less worthy and easy victims of hate speech, of racist violence and police abuse and day-to-day discrimination in all areas of our lives.

Today, when 80% of Roma and related groups live at the risk of poverty and hate speech and victimization of Roma have only increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, we must carry  the fight of our ancestors forward and stand firm against antigypsyism.

To eradicate antigypsyism, our network of civil society organisations, our friends and the entire Roma movement must all work together to empower Roma communities to stand up for their rights, to raise awareness of our situation among non-Roma, to demand that the justice system identifies and  persecutes crimes against us and to advocate for structural changes.

While we can be proud of our culture, history, personal achievements and political successes, such as the increased recognition of antigypsyism among institutions and some national governments and a stronger EU Roma Strategic Framework that puts the fight against antigypsyism at its core, there is still a very long way to go in order to achieve racial equality for Roma, Sinti, Travellers and other related groups.

On this important day, we are asking the European Institutions to

  • Further develop guidelines to recognise and address specific forms of racism, including
  • Create synergies between EU and national policy and legislative developments on specific forms of racism.
  • Speak out forcefully against any attempts to ethnically profile and scapegoat Roma and other minorities during the pandemic and ensure that states’ responses to Covid-19 do not make certain populations more vulnerable to racist violence and discrimination.
  • Ensure that the implementation of the Action Plan of the European Pillar of Social Rights will be used so that Europe’s Roma are not left behind and that the Covid-19 EU recovery packages will reach Roma and other vulnerable groups.
  • Further invest in mapping and data collection regarding the access to rights and services and the capacity building of Roma civil society to take an active part in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national policies and programmes relevant to Roma.

We are asking national governments, under the new upcoming Roma strategic frameworks and policy actions to…

  • Shift narratives and measures on Roma in a positive and empowering way, reflective of democratic societies, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
  • Prioritise the recognition of and fight against antigypsyism and discrimination, segregation in education and housing and anti‑Roma prejudices and stereotypes.
  • Promote awareness of Roma history, culture, recognition and reconciliation and prioritize self-representation of Roma.
  • Ensure EU and national funds are used towards inclusive mainstream policy reform, targeted action and communication for Roma equality, inclusion and participation.
  • Ensure full and effective participation of Roma and (pro-) Roma civil society at all levels and all stages of the NSF design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Ensure an appropriate response and funding to the particular risks experienced by Roma and related communities due to the Covid-19 pandemic and mainstreaming and inclusion of Roma communities in the social and economic policies and programmes deployed to address the impact of the pandemic.

And we are asking from our non-Roma friends, neighbours, colleagues and others to:

  • Question your own biases and stereotypes against Roma.
  • Call out antigypsyism when you see it happening.
  • Educate yourselves and learn about Roma history.
  • Do not use racist slurs against us.
  • Do not speak on our behalf, but give us spaces to speak up and amplify our voices.
  • Celebrate with us our Roma culture, history and role models – on 8th April, and throughout the rest of the year.

Call for Applications


Analysis of bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion and funding programs

The European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network is contracting external consultants to prepare a study consisting of the following two parts:

  1. Study on importance of bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion
  2. Analysis of current funding programs on Roma inclusion in Europe

ERGO Network brings together over 30 members from across Europe and supports organisations with a common perspective on Roma grassroots empowerment and equal citizenship to challenge stereotypes and combat stigmatization. We mobilize and connect organisations and individuals that share and express our values – active citizenship, shared responsibility, and passion – to strengthen and empower Roma civil society involvement in decision-making at local, national and European level and to address existing shortcomings of policies targeted at Roma.

Role of the consultant

Through the ”New solutions to old problems – exchange of new types of approaches in the field of Roma integration” project, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation, ERGO Network is contracting an external expert to

  • Analyze programs supporting Roma inclusion that use bottom-up and community development schemes and
  • Analyze existing top-down funding programs for Roma inclusion, their benefits, and pitfalls. Specifically, the consultant is expected to prepare two reports of approximately up to 25 pages each, in English, with conclusions and concrete recommendations for improvement of funding programs.

First drafts should be delivered by 31 July 2021 and final reports by 31 August 2021. Both studies can be conducted by same consultant.

Profile of the consultant

  • A consultant can be an individual, institution or organization.
  •  Proven knowledge about Roma inclusion policies
  •  Experience working with Roma civil society.
  •  Excellent writing skills
  •  Proven research and analytical skills
  •  Ability to work independently.

Contract and budget

The independent consultant will be subcontracted by ERGO Network and has no rights vis-à-vis the EEA and Norway Grants for Regional Cooperation. He/She reports to ERGO Network. Each of the two reports will be renumerated with 2000 €, VAT and all costs and charges included.

Aims of the Study on importance of funding bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion

  •  To analyse challenges and advantages of top-down and bottom-up funding programs and approaches used by different donors in Europe.
  •  To raise awareness among (Roma) civil society and donors on the importance of investing in local level initiatives that are participatory and led by Roma civil society.
  •  To provide recommendations to private donors, governments, and international institutions on the design of funding programmes targeting Roma inclusion and empowerment, to further promote the bottom-up approach and community participation.

Aims of the Analysis of funding programs on Roma inclusion

  •  To give an overview of current funding programs for Roma inclusion of institutional and private donors in Europe, and their type of approach (top-down or bottom-up)
  •  To raise awareness of private donors on the importance of investing in Roma inclusion and empowerment.
  •  To showcase examples of funding that could contribute to capacity building for a better use of funds.
  •  To identify barriers and success stories of bottom-up approaches in addressing the needs of Roma
  •  To provide recommendations to private donors, governments, and international institutions on the design of funding programmes targeting Roma inclusion and empowerment
  •  To provide Roma and pro-Roma civil society organizations with tips and information on the how to reach donors.

The applicants should submit:

  •  An updated CV
  •  Recent history of published research and links to the publications
  •  A proposal for the structure of the study/studies – possible content, research question and methodology

The application package should be submitted by 5 May 2021 to info@ergonetwork.org with the subject – name of the study you are applying for.