Railway assistants – antigypsyism in employment programme
In October 2019, Slovak Railway Company announced the implementation of a new project called ‘Train Assistant’. This project created a new position in the railway company for people from marginalized Roma communities. Together with other organizations and activists, the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RARC) appealed to the railway company as well as to the Implementation agency of the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family to stop this project because it carries signs of antigypsism. As our attempts were not heard, we sent a letter to the European Commission’s DG Employment with a notice on this project. In February 2020, we received a response from DG Employment, which you can see below. We consider it important that DG Employment has requested an external interim impact assessment of the project (which will start in January 2020 and will continue for 24 months) within the first 6 months of its implementation. The interim external assesment shall focus in particular on the aspects which we raised in our complaint: risks of maintaining or worsening any form of discrimination, stigmatization of Roma and antigypsism, impact on employment perspective of participants including their career progression towards non-assistant type of jobs (train conductors), synergies and possible overlaps with the local civil order services and field social work.
We believe that such projects should not be presented as the only employment opportunities for marginalized groups, as their inclusive character is highly questionable.
During 2019, in the framework of our EaSI funded work programme ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’ (RIISE) ERGO Network members in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary conducted case studies to shed light on specific challenges relating to Roma integration in their countries.
In Slovakia, the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre looked into the challenge of indebtedness of Roma and how a change in the bankruptcy law, which was not particularly focused at Roma, greatly improved their financial inclusion. You can read the case study here.
In Hungary, Autonomia Foundation spoke to mid-sized employers in one region of the country to learn more about their attitude towards employees of Romani origin and their employment and hiring capacity of Romani workers. Read the case study here.
Our Bulgarian member Integro Association discusses the impact of EU Operational Programs on the shrinking Roma civil society in Bulgaria. Read Integro’s case study here.
Finally, our Romanian member organization Nevo Parudimos explored the phenomenon of school drop-out or early school-leaving as well as to identify its reasons among disadvantaged young Roma aged 14–22, who failed to complete lower and/or upper secondary education. Antigypsyism inside the classroom and persistent poverty and difficult living conditions are the two main causes for early school dropout, which need to be countered by positive government measures. Read the full study here.
STRENGTHENING ROMA NGOS AS TRANSPARENT AND INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG ORGANISATIONS
ERGO Network’s new transparency and accountability criteria give recommendations on how grassroots civil society organisations should be governed and managed in order to be reliable and accountable. Fulfilling the criteria will bring attention to an organisation’s quality work. The set of criteria focuses on governance, financial management and performance.
ERGO Network together with its member organisations – Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (Slovakia), Roma Active Albania (Albania), Slovo 21 (Czech Republic), Autonomia Foundation (Hungary), OTAHARIN (Bosnia and Herzegovina), RROMA (Macedonia), Mladi Romi (Montenegro) and Zero Discrimination (Turkey) – developed a set of transparency and accountability criteria for grassroots organisations with the aim to strengthen civil society organisations. Using the criteria will give more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions and ultimately reinforce the power of civil society organizations. Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society that is taken seriously by its institutional counterparts and other partners.
Furthermore, the members of ERGO Network agreed on joining their efforts and putting their thorough expertise together to empower Roma and pro-Roma civil society in their countries in implementing the transparency criteria. For this aim, ERGO Network has developed a board game that leads the players through different steps necessary to become more transparent and accountable. Anyone can download the game and play it by themselves, or invite an ERGO Network facilitator to support them through the process. Besides the offline game, there is also an online self-audit that you can go through to discover how far you are in applying the criteria in your organisation.
Fulfilling the transparency criteria means not only being able to show that Roma and pro-Roma civil society takes these very seriously, but also having the right to demand the same from other stakeholders.
This video shows the achievements of the work done by the European Roma Grassroots organizations (ERGO) network and its members under the Framework Partnership Agreement 2014-2017 with DG Employment supported by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation EaSI (2014-2020).
ERGO Network mobilizes and connects organizations and individuals who share a set of core values, to co-create the courage, capacity and approaches to: combat inequality, stigmatization and discrimination; strengthen Roma civil society participation in decision making at local, national and European level; commit governments and European institutions to effective anti-discrimination and social inclusion policies for Roma. ERGO has almost 30 members in more than 20 countries in Europe. Through its members ERGO became the only organization that brings the Roma grassroots voice directly to the EU institutions, but also helps the European institutions to understand better the needs of Romani communities.
Our dream is Roma to have the same opportunities like the non-Roma in education, employment and to all spheres of life and to be free from racism. In our opinion this can be happened only if we Roma take our lives in our hands.
Quotas from the video ;
“All people are humans, also Roma are humans” says Zuzana Havirova, Director of Roma Advocacy and Research Center from Slovakia
”If you want decide to be an activists then you are an activists by the heart” and “unite is power” said by Michal Miko member of SLOVO21 from the Czech Republic.
In video are featured:
JAMEN GABRIELA HRABANOVA (ERGO Network – Belgium)
ZUZANA HAVIROVA (Roma advocacy and Research center – Slovakia)
Roma Advocacy and Research Center became a member of the National Rural Development Network of the Slovak Republic
On 24 May 2017 RAVS ERGO Network, member became an official member of the National Rural Development Network of the Slovak Republic (NSRF SR). NSRF SR associates the organizations and administrative bodies involved in rural development and the implementation of the PRV SR 2014-2020 in the sense of Art. 55 of Regulation (EU) No. 1305/2013 on support for rural development by the EPFRV and Art. 5 principles of partnership and multilevel governance of Regulation (EU) No. 1303/2013.
NSRF SR directly cooperates with the Ministry of Agriculture and rural development of the Slovak Republic (MPRV SR) and the European Network for Rural Development. Through this partnership Roma people will be involved more actively in the implementation of the programs under the Community Local Led Development in Slovakia.
Read more about RAVS activity in Slovak language here