Finland: Fourth International Roma Women's Conference takes place in Hanasaari
Romani women activists from the Czech Republic Gabriela Hrabaňová (ERGO Network) and Martina Horváthová (Slovo 21) participated in the International Roma Women's Conference on 16 and 17 September 2013 in the Finnish town of Hanasaari, where the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) and the International Roma Women's Network (IRWN) jointly presented a Position Paper entitled “Acting Now for an Equal Future”. The conference was organized by the Council of Europe and the Finnish Government.
The Position Paper is the result of discussions held by the working groups on Roma Women and on the Elderly that were established at the 2013 Plenary Assembly of the European Roma and Travellers Forum. The ERTF and IRWN are calling on Roma women to work together for the improvement of their status in society and for the welfare of the Roma community.
The conference was attended by 100 Romani women from 36 countries (a total of approximately 200 people attended). Romani women both unknown and well-known spoke at the international conference, discussed various issues, and took action on new founding principles and methods of cooperation.
An initiatory group of eight women has now been created of which Martina Horváthová and Gabriela Hrabaňová are a part. "Even though the conference prompted many questions because the initiative was first promoted by the Council of Europe and not by Romani women themselves," Hrabáňová said she is glad that "the process of mobilizing Romani women has managed to start, and eventually there will be a strategy focused on Romani women that is created with their direct involvement."
The first step to result from the conference will be the establishment of an e-mail group of the 200 women who attended the conference in order to share the results of the workshops held at the conference (which focused, for example, on the field of education, support for active citizenship, the law, and gender issues). The group will finalize the form of the Romani women's recommendations as a declaration, which will soon be presented to the public and to representatives of the relevant states.
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