European Roma Information Office: Time to ensure the full participation of Roma women to build a more equal Europe
Ahead of International Women’s Day [8 March], the European Roma Information Office (ERIO) welcomes the improvements achieved on the long road to gender equality. However, ERIO is deeply concerned by the persistence of deep inequalities affecting Roma women who are confronted by complex and multidimensional forms of discrimination and exclusion.
Bearing the burden of intersectional discrimination, Roma women are profoundly disadvantaged in comparison to both Roma men and non-Roma women in key areas of life such as education which plays a significant role in determining future life opportunities and prospects. While wide disparities persist between Roma and non-Roma, studies show the existence of important gender gaps within Roma communities. According to the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), more Roma women than their male counterparts declare that they have never been to school (19% against 14%, respectively). On the contrary, fewer Roma women say that they can read and write (77% against 85%) and Roma men are more numerous to be reported as continuing their education after the age of 16 (85% against 77%).
Even though the 2013 Council Recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in the member states stresses the necessity to fight any form of discrimination, including multiple discrimination faced by Roma women, gender equality remains a real challenge when it comes to Roma inclusion. Therefore, ERIO urges the EU and member states to improve the socioeconomic status of Roma women by systematically including a gender dimension in policies and projects targeting Roma. Conversely, actions aimed at promoting gender equality should take into account the specific situation of the most marginalised and vulnerable women. ERIO also calls on European institutions to make sure that member states design and enforce measures efficiently addressing the specific obstacles with which Roma women are confronted. As an important condition for Roma inclusion, Roma women’s empowerment should be fostered through inclusive education systems and their participation at all levels of decision-making and in the implementation and monitoring of the National Roma Integration Strategies. ERIO’s director, Ivan Ivanov, notes, “Strong and urgent actions are also needed to fight an increasing anti-Gypsyism fuelled by deep-seated stereotypes.” In this respect, he concluded, “We particularly call on media to positively influence public opinion by highlighting the positive impact on social cohesion of Roma women’s full participation in society”.