Roma for Slovakia: Breaking Stereotypes and Changing Perceptions

1 August 2016

During the weekend of 22 to 24 July 2016, Humenné became the headquarters of Romani activism in Slovakia. A group of NGOs and individual activists gathered to discuss opportunities for action and break the perceptions of Roma as passive recipients of help. Start of the initiative, led by Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (Rómske advokacné a výskumné stredisko - RAVS) coincides with the Slovak presidency of the Council of European Union (July to December 2016) and establishment of the Alliance against Antigypsyism (5 July 2016).

First meeting of Roma for Slovakia took place with presence of RAVS, Roma Integration of Záhorie Region (Integrácia Rómov Záhorie) and Civil Association Rom Podskalka. Together with other individual supporters they were discussing three key topics for further development of the coalition: fight against antigypsyism, National Strategy for Roma Integration in Slovakia, and engagement of citizens. Participants of the meeting focused on antigypsyism as the key topic also because all of the participating organizations joined the European Alliance against Antigypsism inspired by ERGO Network.

 

Chairwoman of RAVS explained in the introduction the theoretical framework of antigypsyism and the group further discussed the importance of its recognition in the Slovak context. There were non-Romani participants at the meeting, too: member of the municipal council of Humenné and two civic activists. This idea proved to be beneficial to the group as the non-Roma participants provided important feedback to the discussion. All participants valued specific examples presented at the meeting as very helpful in addressing antigypsyism and explaining it to others.

 

At the moment, the coalition includes the following organisations: eduRoma, Roma Integration in Záhorie Region (Integrácia Rómov Záhorie), Association of Young Roma (Združenie mladých Rómov), Quo Vadis, Civil Association Rom Podskalka (OZ Róm Podskalky), Civil Association of Romani Women – LUCIA (OZ rómskych žien – LUCIA) and Roma Advocacy and Research Centre.

 

The tasks we’ve agreed upon were the following:

·         Continuation in meetings with all coalition partners (until the end of August 2016);

·         Meeting with the government’s plenipotentiary for Roma communities (August 2016);

·         Involvement of the coalition in the working groups of Committee on Prevention and Elimination of Racism at the Ministry of Interior (until the end of September 2016);

·         Proposal for amendment of the National Roma Integration Strategy to recognize antigypsyism as a phenomenon contributing to Roma exclusion (until the end of Slovakia’s EU Council Presidency);

·         Proposal for amendment of the Action Plan on Prevention and Elimination of Racism (until the end of 2016).

 

Roma for Slovakia have been addressed by two Roma media outlets: DikTV and Romano Nevo Lil, both of which expressed their strong interest in following further activities of the coalition.

 

By Zuzana Balazova

News


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