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Empowerment of Roma Women: Crucial to Achieve Equality [editar]

FSG Press Release on the occassion of the International Women’s Day


Empowerment of Roma Women: Crucial to Achieve EqualityThe 2017 International Women’s Day offers an excellent opportunity to reflect on the progress made as regards gender equality and to call on public authorities and society at large to pursue efforts to fully guarantee equal opportunities between men and women.  

On the 2017 International Women’s Day, the United Nations calls attention to the role of women in a changing world of work and its implications on the economic empowerment of women. The Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) and its Roma Women Group joins this call of attention and bet on the empowerment of Roma women, which requires doubtlessly their incorporation in the labour market on an equal footing with the rest of citizens (breaking the glass ceiling, the wage gap, etc.).

Without forgetting the heterogeneity and diversity of Roma women, support measures are required for those Roma women in situations of vulnerability, who daily face enormous internal and external difficulties and barriers to access an employment that allows them grow personally and professionally and have economic independence.

We also want to claim the role of those Roma women who are fully incorporated into the labour market. These trained and professional women play an important role in our societies: they are contributing to the growth and development of our economy and society while promoting a social transformation within the Roma community, by working to make the path to be followed by Roma women more diverse and with less difficulties.  

But we are still few women in this situation, and in addition we remain invisible to society and the media, which often continue to offer a stereotyped and uniform image of Roma women, hiding our heterogeneity and richness. The clichés and stereotypes about ‘Roma women’ prevent many of us from making progress, by reinforcing prejudices that sometimes lead to discriminatory behaviours. These behaviours should be denounced and effectively tackled by our rule of law.  

It is time to act. We should not allow that still being different implies discrimination, that we still have to fight to be the best, that we still have to prove, alike our grandmothers, that we can. It is the time for all our efforts to be recognised.

Today, we call for support measures to guarantee equal opportunities for Roma women in the access to a changing labour market; for the right to a quality and equal education; for training and professional qualifications tailored to the needs and starting level; and for the elimination of all forms of discrimination, which in the case of Roma girls and women becomes multiple discrimination: because they are women and Roma.

Roma women are undertaking a hard journey, but with good results when success is achieved as regards education, access to the labour market…in the end, when they can enjoy a dignified life in which they can have a voice and have the capacity to exercise their rights and to defend them.

The reality of Roma women is diverse. It is linked to the specificities related to their gender and  ethnicity, which should be taken into account by public authorities in the elaboration of equality plans, in the legislation for the defence of gender equality or in the services put in place to guarantee women’s equality and their full citizenship. Ultimately, we need to empower women to achieve equality.