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Czech NGO releases exclusive survey by and about Romani women

Prague, 28.9.2014 22:28, (ROMEA)
Selma Muhič Dizdarevič (left). (PHOTO:  ROMEA TV)
Selma Muhič Dizdarevič (left). (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Research released earlier this month by the Slovo 21 civic association on the position of Romani women in the Czech Republic found that most Romani women consider their children's education to be very important. More than 600 Romani women were surveyed by the project.

The research endeavors to refute stereotypical notions about Romani people, specifically Romani women, on the basis of data. "The opinion prevails in the Czech Republic that Romani women do not want to educate themselves and work, that they have many children, and that they believe it is not important that their descendants receive a quality education. There was no relevant data to either confirm or deny such claims, which is why we decided to research the actual position of these women in Czech society and in the Romani community and reveal the challenges they face daily," the introduction to the study's final report says.

The analysis of the survey findings was performed by an expert team at the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University in Prague. It shows that Romani women in the Czech Republic want to become educated, want to work, and want quality education for their children.

Most Romani women in the Czech Republic have completed either a primary school education or a secondary school education without taking a graduation examination. Most have incomes of as much as CZK 10 000 per month.

Most respondents said they had encountered discrimination at work and when seeking housing. They most often live with their families in rental housing.

The survey found that most Romani women usually get married between 18 and 21 years of age. They are primarily responsible for taking care of their children and household.

Selma Muhic Dizdarevic, an author of the study, presented its results earlier this month. She said it is not possible to draw simple generalizations from the data collected.

A total of 46 % of respondents said they had completed primary school, 25 % had completed vocational school, 11 % had completed secondary school and passed a graduation examination, 3 % had earned a college degree, 3 % were completely without any education, and 3 % were graduates of "special school". The survey found that 85 % of the mothers surveyed said they would support their children in acquiring higher education, but only two-fifths of respondents reported regularly attending parent-teacher meetings with their children's homeroom teacher and 31 % had never attended such meetings.

Roughly seven out of 10 respondents reported a monthly income of as much as CZK 10 000 per month, with one-third reporting income of up to CZK 5 000 and almost two-fifths reporting incomes of between CZK 5 000 and CZK 10 000 per month. More than CZK 30 000 monthly income was reported by only around 1 % of respondents.

About 8 % of respondents lived in households where the total income was less than CZK 5 000. Roughly 6 % of the women lived in a household with a total monthly income of more than CZK 40 000, but three out of 10 respondents lived in households with a total income of between CZK 15 000 and CZK 20 000.

Acccording to the survey, traditional gender roles predominate in Romani families. Three-fifths of the Romani women said they were the sole provider of care for their children and the household.

Not quite two-fifths said they shared childcare and household work with their husband, while 2 % said such work was mainly their husband's responsibility. A total of 44 % said they shared decision-making in their family with their partners.

Reportedly 34 % of the respondents said they alone were responsible for making the family's decisions. Another 22 % said their husband made the decisions in their household.

Most Romani women support their children in continuing their education. It is evident from the survey that most Romani women consider the education of their children to be key.

Only 6 % of respondents said they believed otherwise. Most wanted their children to complete secondary school, whether with or without passing a graduation examination.

Every sixth Romani woman in the survey, moreover, wanted her children to earn a college degree. The vast majority of respondents (99 %) do not want their children to attend the "practical" (previously called the "special") schools.

The Romani women surveyed agreed that the knowledge acquired in such schools is under no circumstances sufficient. Respondents also stated they regretted not having paid sufficient attention to their own educations, and almost all of them admitted that they would like to make up for the gaps in their education, most often mentioning options for requalification or for further education should their financial situations permit.

Most Romani women want to work

Almost all of the respondents in this exclusive survey on the position of Romani women said they wanted to work. Reportedly they would only want to stay home if they were to have young children to care for.

The survey reveals that Romani women are doing their best to actively look for work and to continue their educations and that they are willing to work part-time and at unusual hours. "This is the modern age. Today both parents can work, it's not like before when the woman had to take care of children at home and cook while the guy went to work. Today the woman has to go to work too, there is poverty here," one respondent said.

According to the survey, Romani women consider employment important not only for financial reasons, but also for their personal development. Most of them (82 %) believe, however, that there are not enough opportunities in their neighborhood.

On the other hand, it must be noted that almost half of the women surveyed (42 %) would not be willing to relocate for work. The survey also shows that almost three-fourths of Romani women have no experience with being released from employment during the initial trial period.

Most Romani women have two childen

The often-heard claim that Romani women have many children was not confirmed by this exclusive research. Almost one-third of respondents (39 %) said they have two children, more than one-fifth (21 %) reported three children and 19 % have only one.

More detailed information about the position of Romani women in the Czech Republic is offered by a new publication released by the Slovo 21 civic association. The findings of this exclusive research can serve as a relevant source of information, for example, when designing Romani integration strategy or programs intended to respond to the actual needs of Romani women in the Czech Republic.

The survey was conducted between September 2013 and May 2014; questionnaires were completed by 600 Romani women between the ages of 17 and 77 in 23 towns around the Czech Republic. The survey was performed by 20 trained Romani women and included topics proposed by members of the Romani women's group Manushe.

That group is a section of the Slovo 21 organization and has been active for years in the field of strengthening the position of Romani women inside the Romani community and in Czech society in general. This research is specific in that it actively involved Romani women, from the development of the basic idea of the need to collect relevant data and determining the main topics for investigation that would best reveal the actual position of Romani women, to the implementation of the survey itself.

Jana Baudyšová, ČTK, František Kostlán, Slovo 21, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Manushe, postavení ve společnosti, Romské ženy, Slovo 21, Výzkum



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