Call for Participants: ERGO Summer Academy

Call for Participants: ERGO Summer Academy:

ROMA YOUTH KICKING OFF THE DECADE TO COUNTER ANTIGYPSYISM

24 – 28 August 2022, Bratislava

Project background:

The project “Roma youth kicking off the decade to counter antigypsyism” will empower young Roma from 8 Central and South-Eastern European countries to campaign against antigypsyism – the racism directed against people perceived as “Gypsies” – through their involvement in a new large-scale campaign “Decade to counter antigypsyism”, coordinated by ERGO Network from the EU to the local level. The project will include a “Summer Academy” for young Roma as well as the kick-off of the campaign through a participatory planning process, a high-level event in Brussels and online campaign activities.

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network with its member organisations in Central Europe and the Western Balkans want to address this situation by developing a large-scale campaign called “Decade to counter antigypsyism” targeting the general public, which will raise awareness of antigypsyism and contribute to changing attitudes towards Roma in the majority society.

The campaign will provide relevant, truthful and awareness-raising information about Roma through a variety of means, ranging from social media to in-person campaign events, educational activities and working with traditional media. The campaign will have the same time frame as the new EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation up to 2030. Young Roma play a crucial role in combatting antigypsyism – they constitute the biggest age group among Roma, are the most creative, educated and with the widest outreach through the use of social media.

Many young Roma are already active in grassroots civil society organisations to support their communities. They will therefore play a crucial role in the decade to counter antigypsyism by shaping the campaign and reaching out to their non-Roma peers.

To support them in doing so, the project partners will empower young Roma as change-makers through capacity-building activities, starting with a first Summer Academy on combating antigypsyism in 2022. During the academy, the young people will learn about the concept of antigypsyism, share experiences and develop ideas for local activities within the framework of the campaign.

Summer Academy:

The Summer Academy will bring together 20 young participants and 5 trainers from all partner organizations for four days in Slovakia.

During the Academy, the participants will learn more and share experiences about the concept and different manifestations of antigypsyism and discuss ways of combatting this specific form of racism. This will include sessions on counter-speech, advocacy and campaigning as practical tools.

They will also develop ideas for local campaigns that will raise awareness of antigypsyism among their non-Roma peers.

Organizer: ERGO Network in partnership with ERGO members, and Romedia Foundation

Profile of participants:

We aim to invite a diverse group of Roma and non-Roma participants from a variety of organizations that are active in their respective (youth) organizations with experience and commitment to combat antigypsyism. We aim to have a wide international outreach and diversity, as well as multiple experiences of activists (grassroots, European, non-formal education, youth participation, advocacy, from general anti-racist and minority organizations). We aim to have a gender-balanced group.

Participants must:

  • be able and committed to acting as multipliers in youth work and activism on the theme of combating antigypsyism and other forms of racism.
  • Have some experience in nonformal education and knowledge of antigypsyism or other forms of racism.
  • be motivated to develop their competencies in human rights education and to share their experiences with other participants.
  • be motivated to contribute to developing their local campaign during the event.
  • Come with an open-minded and sensitive attitude towards discussing antigypsyism and share related experiences.
  • be aged 18 – 30.
  • be committed to attending for the full duration of the event.
  • be able to work in English.
  • be resident in a member state of the European Union.

We welcome applications from all candidates who fulfil the specific profile of activities, irrespective of gender, disability, marital or parental status, racial-ethnic or social origin, religious belief or sexual orientation.

Costs

The following costs will be reimbursed:

  • Travel from and to your place of residence
  • Accommodation and meals

If you are interested to participate, please apply by filling out the application form (https://forms.gle/CAhnCENXtiXsXovB6) until the 15th of July, 23:59 h!

Questions? Contact Mustafa Jakupov at ERGO Network: m.jakupov@ergonetwork.org 

This project is kindly supported by the International Visegrad Fund and European Union.

New Board of ERGO Network

We are thrilled to introduce you to the new Board of ERGO Network!

ERGO Network is currently in a big transformative process: We have established a new legal entity, the ERGO Network AISBL, finally moving our legal seat from the Netherlands to Belgium and becoming more democratic. While the “old” ERGO Network will continue to exist until all contracts are moved, the “new” ERGO is already up and running and has just elected a new Board!

The Board consists of six members. Our membership has shown them their trust and support, and all of us – including the ERGO Secretariat – are looking forward to working together – making our Network stronger, wider and more powerful to achieve our common goals.

Our new Board members are:

Soraya Post, Sweden (Chair)

Soraya Post is one of ERGO Network’s founding members. For the past four years, she has been sharing the lead in the “old” ERGO Board, serving as inspiration and motivation for young Roma activists to take a stand for the Roma cause. Soraya has dedicated her entire professional career as a Romani activist as well as a member of the European Parliament to the Roma. Soraya would like to give her support and commitment to the causes that ERGO Network represents. She is particularly keen to take the fight against antigypsyism further based on her knowledge of the European institutions and the European Parliament in particular.

Zuzana Havírová from the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RARC), Slovakia (Vice-Chair)

Zuzana Havirová is the chair of the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RARC) in Slovakia. She is also vice-chair of the Committee for the Prevention of Racism, Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance, which belongs to the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic and a member of the Slovak Government Council for Human Rights. Last year Zuzana was also elected by several Roma NGOs to serve as a member of the Slovak Government Council for National Minorities.

Zuzana believes that ERGO Network will play an important role in working with governments and international institutions to ensure Roma are part of the change. She is convinced that it is necessary to strengthen the fight for the rights and participation of the Roma at the international level as well.

Annabel Carballo Mesa from Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña (FAGiC), Spain

Annabel Carballo Mesa is the Director of the European and International Area in the Federació Assoc Gitanes Fagic in Spain. Her main goals for the ERGO Network Board are to bring a new and fresh perspective to continue the great work done previously, and to make sure that strategic plans and annual operation plans are developed and implemented according to ERGO Network’s mission and vision.

Annabel’s main motivation is to widen the geographic scope of the Board including the perspective from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). She is sure that this will bring more diversity to the work of ERGO Network and make different voices be heard.

Martin Mata, Czech Republic (Treasurer)

Martin is one of the founding members of ERGO Network and has been serving on the ERGO Network Board for the last four years as treasurer. Away from ERGO Network he is a businessperson, a local politician and leader of important regional institutions. As a part of the Board he will continue to share his knowledge on programmes and spending. He is particularly interested in identifying correlations between organizational development and trends in the society, which is even more relevant in times of crisis.

Mustafa Jakupov from Регионална Ромска Образовна Младинска Асоцијација – RROMA, North Macedonia

Mustafa has 15 years of experience – most of which he was working with ERGO Network and its members on various projects and working groups. For the last several years and until August 2022, Mustafa had an even closer connection to ERGO working as Policy and Project Coordinator in charge of the areas of antigypsyism, non-formal education, Roma youth empowerment, participation, mobility and volunteering.

He has information and knowledge on the variety of the membership, as well as broader policy trends and occurrences related to Roma issues across Europe.

Daniel Grebeldinger from Nevo Parudimos, Romania

Daniel has more than 10 years of experience as Board member of different EU networks, as well as 18 years of running, setting up and developing Roma and non-Roma NGOs.

His vision for ERGO Network in 5 years is being the strongest Roma network in Europe, contributing directly to the development of its members, bringing the grassroots voice of the Roma from all around Europe to the decision makers at EU level. He sees ERGO Network as being one of the main actors in training and capacitating Roma professionals, young people and adults who will be the future Roma civil society in Europe.

Daniel believes that if until now the Board was more a decision-making structure, the future Board of ERGO Network will be a more active body, more dynamic and more involved in the evolution and future development of the Network. He sees himself as an active part of the fundraising team of ERGO Network, a promoter of the network and a recruiter of new members.

Once again, congratulations to all newly elected Board members and we are looking forward to working together!

 

ERGO Network’s Annual Members’ Meeting / General Assembly 2022

ERGO Network’s Annual Members’ Meeting / General Assembly 2022

After two years of meeting online, from 13-15 June 2022 ERGO Network’s members finally came together live in Brussels to share updates from the past year, set future priorities, and learn from each other. As ERGO Network is moving from a foundation (Stichting) registered in the Netherlands to a member-governed organisation (AISBL) based in Belgium, this Annual Members’ Meeting was also the first General Assembly of the “new ERGO”.

The first day started with welcoming the members to Brussels by ERGO Network Co-Chair Stanislav Daniel and ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabaňová. It was followed by an exchange of expectations for the meeting between the members, who highlighted fears such as conflicts, lack of (or too much) discussion and even contracting Covid-19 during the meeting. But the identified opportunities and hopes – such as to be heard, to come back home motivated, excitement about the “new” ERGO and its board together with many others – outweighed these fears.

This ice-breaker session was followed by a presentation of the “new ERGO” working structure: a general overview of the Statutes of the new ERGO Network aisbl, the membership (a discussion during which the active members of the “old” ERGO Network officially also became members of the new ERGO Network aisbl), the establishment of the General Assembly and approval of the agenda. The new statutes are also introducing the new type of membership – besides the full members, we also welcomed associated members and friends of ERGO.“We also discussed the roles of the new ERGO Board, the General Assembly, the Secretariat, voting procedures, and elections.

In the afternoon, the members split into groups to discuss ERGO Network policy work updates:

• EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, Roma Civil Monitoring and the work of the Anti-Racism Coalition with Isabela Mihalache
• Capacity building of Roma civil society by the director Gabriela Hrabaňová
• Combatting Roma poverty and social exclusion with Amana Ferro and Carmen Tănasie
• Raising awareness of antigypsyism online and offline with Mustafa Jakupov
• Romani Women Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey with Adriatik Hasantari


This session was followed by a plenary discussion on updates on the situation in Ukraine and support from ERGO Network members. The exchange was kicked-off by our Ukrainian member organization Roma Women Fund Chiricli and followed by inputs from members from Romania, Hungary, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The discussions continued late into the evening during our dinner outside, where the members also had a chance to join an informal conversation about an initiative exploring any potential misuse of EU funds for Roma integration.

The second day started with a deeper look at the statutory items of the new ERGO: the statutory role of the General Assembly and voting procedures, and the Internal Governance Handbook. Then the candidates for the Board were presented and the most awaited part of the meeting – the elections – took place. To find out who became the new Board of ERGO Network stay tuned for the update in the coming days!

Our treasurer Martin Mata presented an overview of the financial situation from 2017 to 2022. He stated that ERGO Network was in very good financial health, with sufficient reserves, and recommended continuing on the same path. The session on finances was complete with the presentation of ERGO’s main funding sources and finally the discussion and vote on the membership fee.

After all the excitement of the elections, an in-depth discussion on strengthening the membership followed. In the format of the World Café, we asked our members: What does membership mean for you? What works in ERGO’s membership? What does not work? What are the opportunities to make the membership stronger?

Some of the key takeaways from this session were: to be more aware of members’ capacities, to channel communication, to increase the transparency within the network, and to continue sharing knowledge and expertise among members.

This day and the General Assembly 2022 closed with a policy round table on Building intersectional synergies to guarantee Roma equality, inclusion, and participation, which facilitated a discussion on the existing challenges of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism and its various manifestations inside and outside the European Union.

The speakers in this event came from the Social Platform, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Eurodiaconia, the European Commission’s DG Justice and Consumers, as well as from ERGO Network’s French member La Voix des Rroms. The presentations were followed by a debate with the audience.

The round table looked at intersections with mainstream anti-racist policy frameworks, and where synergies or opportunities for joint advocacy and cooperation arise that can help strengthen the work of addressing Roma issues further in a holistic way. It provided an opportunity to examine the importance of large-scale awareness-raising and of promoting a deep understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, not only at the national but also at the European level.

The round table received the financial support of the European Union and the International Visegrád Fund.

We thank our members for coming to Brussels for this meeting!

Exchange visit to Pavee Point, Ireland

Exchange visit to Pavee Point, Ireland

From 24  to 27 May 2022 ERGO Network and its members visited Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre in Dublin, Ireland, to learn about the situation of Irish Travellers and Roma communities in Ireland and the invaluable work of Pavee Point for these communities. Among the fellow member organizations who attended were staff from Integro in Bulgaria and RomanoNet from the Czech Republic.

On the first day, our group visited the social enterprise called Shuttle Knit in Wicklow (around a 1-hour drive from Dublin).  Shuttle Knit started over 20 years ago as a partnership between the Traveller and settled communities, with the mission to improve the quality of life for Traveller Women and their families through social enterprise. Traditionally, Traveller women worked by selling door-to-door, at markets and fairs. However, recent Irish legislation has created barriers that prevent Traveller women from selling in the ways in which they did in the past, and so they needed to adapt and change.

One of Shuttle Knit’s goals is to bring inclusion into the labour market through social enterprise. The enterprise provides jobs and training to 11 women who are part of the local Travelling Community in Wicklow. The impact is that their staff have a secure income, and a sense of purpose and they learn a skill. They are empowered and become role models in their own community and contribute to the local economy.

Shuttle Knit is located in the CEART building in Wicklow, which is owned by Wicklow Travellers Group. The location is very much part of the community and thus feels like a “safe space” for Travellers, where everyone is welcome.

After this visit, the participants had an opportunity to take a walk in the picturesque valley of Glendalough, to visit the lake – all while discussing what the other ERGO members could learn from Pavee Point and the social enterprise projects, how they deal with similar challenges and how they could get replicate this model of work in their countries.

The next day the group visited several halting sites and residence points of Travellers in Dublin: Avila Park Finglas, Cara Park Coolock and St Joesph’s Halting Site Dunsink. Although some sites offer decent residential conditions, even they lack facilities for children to play, community work and further development for the young families.

However, the group also had a chance to see the sites with extremely bad living conditions, where according to the residents the Council is deliberately slow in taking any actions to improve these conditions.

In the afternoon the participants met in the office of Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre to learn more about the programmes and activities they run. Over the past thirty years, Pavee Point has an established track record in innovative and ground-breaking work using a collective community development approach to addressing Traveller & Roma issues and promoting Traveller & Roma rights.

Their programmes include Roma Civil Monitor, Education, Accommodation programme, Drug and Alcohol Programme, Ethnic Data Collection, Roma Project, Violence Against Women and finally Health project, including a special programme on Traveller Men – something which is an acute problem in many countries, but at the same time rarely included as a priority.

Our participants from the Czech Republic and Bulgaria and ERGO Secretariat members from Romania and Lithuania shared insights about the similarities in the situation in their countries regarding the health, evictions, general poverty and other pressing issues.

On the 27th everyone left for their respective countries, excited, and inspired. The exchange visit proved to be a success with our member organizations – some of them described it as one of the best they ever had! And the credit for this goes to Pavee Point for being amazing hosts and inspiration in their work for all of us.

ERGO plans to organize similar visits to other members in the next years. This type of event is very important for our work to learn about the problems faced by Roma in different countries and to learn how local organizations are trying to find solutions to these problems.

Romani Week 2022

Looking back at the Romani Week 2022

After last year’s online edition of the Romani Week, the Romani Week 2022 brought together Members of the European Parliament, officials of EU institutions and International Organisations, national and international civil society organisations as well as young Roma activists for a series of live events in the European Parliament in Brussels.

The Romani Week built on the work done during previous Romani Weeks and debated EU policies for Romani inclusion. It also called upon the European Commission and the EU Member States to put the fight against antigypsyism at the forefront of efforts for the social and economic inclusion of the Romani people.

ERGO Network was once again a proud co-organizer and partner of this edition of the Romani Week, under the patronage of the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union, as well as MEP hosts: Romeo FRANZ, Peter POLLÁK, Anna Júlia DONÁTH, Terry REINTKE, Cornelia ERNST, Klára DOBREV, Sergey LAGODINSKY, Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR, Rasmus ANDRESEN, Lucia ĎURIŠ NICHOLSONOVÁ, Monika VANA, Thomas WAITZ and Carmen AVRAM.

ERGO Network’s participation started on the first day, coinciding symbolically with the Romani Resistance Day on 16 May. During the event on “Promoting positive narratives and raising awareness about the Romani language”, ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabaňová underlined that the brave act of Romani prisoners resisting their oppressors in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is an inspiration for many contemporary Roma, who have to still resist racism and discrimination in their daily lives.

“The Decade to counter antigypsyism as a new strategy for Roma inclusion in the EU and Western Balkans” was the title of the second event on the next day. co-organised by ERGO Network. It facilitated a discussion on the existing challenges of modern antigypsyism and its forms in the EU and Western Balkan & Turkey and articulated the way antigypsyism and public policies are related and put forward to achieve equality, inclusion, and participation of Roma.

The event highlighted how antigypsyism is addressed in the framework of the new Roma policies and strategies, with special attention given to the governments in the Enlargement Countries, and discussed the importance of large-scale awareness-raising and a deep understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism. ERGO Network’s campaign “Decade to counter antigypsyism” following the timeframe of the EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, will in this regard target the public and offer new narratives and measures to combat antigypsyism.

The third event co-organised by ERGO Network with the title “Ensuring adequate and effective regional, national and local funds for Roma equality, inclusion and participation – past, present and future challenges” took place on 18 May.

The event was organised jointly by ERGO Network, the Central European University Democracy Institute and Fundación Secretariado Gitano under the Roma Civil Monitoring Consortium together with Nevo Parudimos, RROMA, Autonómia Foundation, and the office of MEP Romeo Franz.
The event facilitated discussions on the challenges in ensuring adequate and effective regional, national, and local funds for Roma, as well as on the importance of monitoring data on funding and its effective implementation towards achieving equality, inclusion and participation of Roma. It also highlighted the importance of Roma civil society monitoring of the EU Roma Strategic Framework and National Roma Frameworks for Roma equality, inclusion and participation.

The event provided examples from the national level on the inclusion of funding allocations, or lack thereof, for priorities under National Roma Frameworks as well as synergies with wider national programmes and funding. It introduced a new guide of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, commissioned by MEP Romeo Franz, on how Roma civil society can best benefit from the new EU funding period 2021-2027, as well as the latest report produced for ERGO Network by Marko Pecak on funding of bottom-up approaches and Roma grassroots involvement and has received financial support in the framework of the project “New solutions to old problems” funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.

This event was followed by the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award, taking place live on 18 May in the afternoon. The “Most Roma Friendly Mayor” award is a local advocacy component of the project Romani Women Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey (Power of Change), funded by DG NEAR and delivered by the ERGO Network. “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is a regional campaign aiming to mobilize Roma communities and strengthen their ability to engage in dialogue with public authorities.

The Power of Change project is implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey and the selection panel chose one mayor per country among the nominated candidates to receive the award in Brussels. The event was hosted by MEP Romeo Franz and opened by Mr Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement.

The final event co-organised by ERGO Network was called “Towards zero segregation in education in Europe”. The event was moderated by Damaris Uzoma, Coordinator of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI), Belén Sánchez-Rubio, Head of International Department, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, Spain and our Senior Policy Officer Isabela Mihalache.

This insightful event informed about the challenges in preventing, combating and sanctioning segregation in education at national and European levels and proposed sustainable and long-term advocacy and cooperation paths towards zero segregation in education.

The other events of the Romani Week also provided recommendations on combatting antigypsyism, defined the place of Roma in the digital and green agendas, paid special attention to the challenges of Roma women and youth, as well as representation of the local communities and Romani language. Finally, meeting in person for this Romani Week following the previous online format was not only enlightening but also inspiring and motivating. It highlighted the need for cooperation between stakeholders on different levels to bring on a real change in the situation of the Roma communities across Europe.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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