Young Roma at OSCE conference: We must increase our participation in public life
More than 40 young activists across the OSCE region gathered on 8 and 9 December 2014 in Belgrade for a Conference on Roma and Sinti Youth. The meeting was organized by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and reviewed the opportunities for mobilizing and strengthening communities and galvanizing their participation in politics and decision-making processes.
"Through this conference we want to make it possible for the voices of young Roma and Sinti to be heard more clearly and to research ways in which it might be possible to increase their participation," said Mirjam Karoly, the head of the ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues. "Their participation in this meeting demonstrates that they are prepared to get involved in and contribute to decision-making processes."
"The conference in Belgrade is a strategic one with respect to young Romani people from all over Europe. It has given us the opportunity to comment on various areas concerning the development of young Roma, such as social inclusion, political participation and security. Participants were distributed among three groups that reviewed various topics to create and comment on the OSCE/ODIHR strategy with respect to the future of young Roma and Sinti," Michal Miko, who attended the conference from the Czech Republic, told news server Romea.cz.
The topics reviewed included socioeconomic questions and the environment. Young Roma and Sinti people represent a demographic group of growing significance, as they comprise a substantial percentage of the school-age population and an important component of the future labor force in many OSCE participating States.
Discriminatory measures in education systems and employment are preventing many young Roma and Sinti from fulling taking advantage of their potential. "Romani and Sinti youth, especially educated girls and women, are valuable resources for their communities, but our potential as role models and leading members of our communities remains largely untapped. We want to get more involved in the activities of our membership bases so we can call for change in our communities, but we lack permanent resources and support," said Romani activist Dragana Jovanovic Arias of Serbia.
"When I first attempted to run for office, all of the main parties in my country rejected me even though I had support in my community and a good education. Ultimately a new party provided room for me on its candidate list, but the day after the elections they asked me to resign and give the seat to a non-Romani candidate who had failed. I refused and I remained in office! We must serve our communities so that the next generation has better prospects for the future," said young town councillor Atanas Stoyanov of Strazhitsa, Bulgaria.
"Communities of Roma and Sinti across Europe face serious security threats, including growth in antigypsyism and extremism, expulsions, and a lack of medical services. In Ukraine the security of Romani communities has drastically deteriorated. We are the ones who are often described as a security threat so they can justify discrimination against us. We young Roma need to face this situation and we must increase our participation in public life, including in the security forces," said Maksym Flora of Ukraine.
The involvement of youth in OSCE activity is a priority of the Swiss OSCE presidency and the incoming Serbian presidency. States participating in the OSCE pledged in Kiev in 2013 to increase their efforts to improve the participation of Roma and Sinti youth.
- Amnesty International and OSCE criticize the position of Romani people in Europe
- LIVE: Roma and Sinti Special Day at the OSCE HDIM
- Violent anti-Roma protests in Bulgaria show urgent need to combat extremism, OSCE human rights chief says
- OSCE human rights chief welcomes declaration of official Roma genocide remembrance day in Poland
- Hungarian authorities and OSCE cooperate to combat hate crimes against Roma
- OSCE warns against stigmatizing Roma
- Remembering the Holocaust is key to fighting modern-day racism, OSCE Roma adviser says ahead of UN ceremony
- OSCE warns of child trafficking in Kosovo
- OSCE mission supports project to help Kosovo's Roma returnees
- Slovak Education Ministry establishes expert team focused on solving problems with the education of members of national minorities
- Museum of Romani Culture to present its project for a Center of the Roma and Sinti in the Czech capital
- OSCE internship in Prague or Vienna, application deadline is 16 March
- Romani competitive dancer Tomáš Kaluja aids non-Romani foster parents of Romani children in Slovakia with understanding ethnic identity
- Czech Republic: Charles University's Romani Studies Seminar accepting applications
- Academic Huub van Baar has found Romani people succeed on the labor market when given a chance
- Spanish MP of Romani origin calls on OSCE to focus on greater participation of Roma in politics
- Norway: Oslo City Council wants to ask Government for a memorial to Holocaust victims of Romani origin
- Scholars gather in Czech capital to discuss migrations and mobilities of Romani people
- Czech town sees its first-ever Romani music festival
- Czech senior citizen threatens arson against Romani neighbors for playing loud music
- High schoolers in the Czech capital don't discuss minorities, poll finds they distrust media and politicians