Slovakia: Czech Human Rights Minister speaks at EU conference on Romani youth
On 10 October the Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation attended the High Level Event on Roma Youth Empowerment in his role as chair of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs. The topic of the conference was "Promoting the key role of Roma youth as a driving force in the process of Roma integration" and it was held in Bratislava from 9-11 October as part of the Slovak Presidency of the European Union.
Zdeněk Doubravský and Martin Martínek of the Office of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs accompanied the minister to the event. Dienstbier appeared yesterday morning on the opening polical panel and said the following: "Romani youth are the driving force of integration because the successful involvement of young people in the processes happening in any given community requires the cooperation of their parents. Community projects are an example of how to work not just with children, but also with their parents. Successful projects don't just aid children with handling the school curriculum, but improve their self-confidence and involve parents in what is going on around the school, and many times also in what is happening in the local community or municipality where these families live."
"The importance of activities for youth is also mentioned by the recent Analysis of Socially Excluded Localities, which reports that 48 % of the inhabitants of such places perceive recreation activiites for children and youth as 'very important', and 48 % perceive it as 'important'. Personally, I know many examples of well-done work with Romani youth, for example, successful dance ensembles from the South Bohemian town of Větřní that give young people the opportunity to get involved in social events, to activate themselves and acquire self-confidence," the minister said.
Adolescence, according to the minister, is exactly the time when people can best devlop their talents, which become most clear at that age, and it is also a time when young people are most susceptible to influences from those around them, which sometimes causes them to abandon their talents and what amuses them. They can lack examples or positive role models for how to become successful and pursue their dreams.
"Just because some of you in this auditorium were born Romani does not mean you are obligated to become activists fighting for a better position for Romani people. Each individual who develops his or her own talent is a benefit to integration - even if they are not always aware of it - as they become a positive role model for those around them," the minister said.
In the field of dancing and singing, Romani musician Ida Kelerová is such a role model, as is Petr Torák, a Romani man from the Czech Republic who works for the British Police and is a role model for British and other youth. Dienstbier informed the audience that "The Czech Government approved its Roma Integration Strategy to 2020 on 23 February 2015, which marks a significant qualitative shift in the area of Romani minority integration in the Czech Republic. The Strategy creates a framework for measures that will lead by 2020 to reversing negative trends in the development of the situation of a significant part of Romani people in the Czech Republic in key areas of their quality of life, and will start and accelerate positive changes leading to the gradual elimination of the unjustifed, unacceptable differences between the situations of a significant number of Romani people and that of the majority population, ensuring effective protection for Romani people from discrimination, ensuring safe coexistence, and sparking the development of Romani culture, language, and participation. The Strategy was created in collaboration and discussion with a wide range of members of the Romani pulbic, as well as with the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs, where young people or students are also represented."
"The Office of the Government of the Czech Republic is implementing a project called 'Activation and Empowerment of Romani Stakeholders through the National Roma Platform', the aim of which is to begin a dialogue between Romani people and representatives of municipalities and other stakeholders in Romani integration at local and regional level - here, too, we are focusing on dialogue with young people and with Romani women. Within the framework of this project we have implemented trainings for Romani representatives focused on community organization and on negotiating skills. The purpose of the project is to prepare Romani people to be equal partners when negotiating with governors, local and regional councilors, or mayors. A significant portion of those participating in this project are Romani youth," Dienstbier concluded.
In addition to the Czech Human Rights Minister, other representatives from the Czech Republic included Stanislav Štěch of the Czech Education Ministry, who is scheduled to speak this morning about education. In addition to bureaucrats and politicians, youth representatives are also attending the conference.
Those attending from the Czech Republic are Denisa Horváthová (Slovo 21), Michal Mižigár (Open Society Fund Prague) and Tomáš Ščuka (Roma Youth Parliament). You can learn more information about this event here.
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