International Roma Day: calling for equal opportunities

A European Commission Report which analysed the effectiveness of Europe's inclusion policies regarding Roma people, has revealed that despite efforts to combat exclusion, European Roma still endure situations of racism, poverty and lack of access to education, employment and other basic needs.

The report suggests that in education, there are high levels of Roma segregation in mainstream schools, and that drop-outs are still persistent among Roma communities, with Slovakia (58%), Hungary (45%) and Greece (35%) registering the highest levels of segregation.

In the employment field, chances for the Roma in the labour market are limited by direct and indirect discrimination.

In countries including Czech Republic (74%), Greece (68%) and Italy (66%), Roma people have experience the highest levels of discrimination when looking for work over the past five years.

Rates of unemployment
Often condemned by a lack of marketable skills or qualifications, Roma people, especially women, face high rates of unemployment. The report says that only 21% of Roma women in Europe are in paid work compared to 35% of the men.

In countries such as Spain the economic crisis and new policies in the budget and spending cuts, have contributed to an increase in levels of discrimination targeting Roma people, according to a media report in ElDiario.es.

“The crisis came to break the balance that we achieved in terms of citizens’ rights” said Beatriz Carillo de los Reyes, President of the Spanish Federacion Andaluza de Mujeres Gitanas.

“Budget cuts are aggravating a situation of social exclusion that already affects a community that doesn’t have the same support of the rest of the society. Consequently, this will help consolidate and bring back the stereotypes against Roma that were starting to disappear.” she added.

On International Roma Day (8 April), Amnesty International condemned the European Union (EU) for what it says is a failure to curb violence, discrimination and intimidation of Roma. It has called on the EU to wipe out the scourge of anti-Roma discrimination and violence.

Preceding the Roma Day was the EU Roma summit on 4 April for which there were high expectations, and was welcomed by some such as George Soros, the philanthroper whose Open Society Foundation have supported Roma rights over many years, and criticised by others from within the community who felt it was a discussion about the Roma without their involvement.

Roma Integration
The Roma are Europe’s largest single and most visible minority group with 10-12 million Roma people.

Roma integration is a long-term challenge that requires sustainable action and creative tools. Football is the sport of the Roma, young people are captivated by the sport, there are many talented Roma players, so Fare believes that football must play a role in supporting empowerment and to help bring about change.

Challenging the abuse of Roma is a key part of our anti- discrimination focus, because football stadiums are still a means of expressing hatred of the community.

In 2011 we offered a small grants scheme for Roma activities; we support Roma groups every year through the Football People action weeks and seek to support other targeted activities as often as possible.

In 2013 for example, several groups, including Foul, in Greece, Roma Youth Centre, in Macedonia, and The Door Center, in Albania, worked with local Roma clubs and communities to celebrate Roma culture and change attitudes during the October period.

For 2014, funding opportunities have been made available for groups to run activities that could become the highlights of the Football People action weeks and celebrate through sport diversity in society.

There will be further calls for funding this year, in the meantime if you have projects with the Roma community that require support please send us your ideas.

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