Strasbourg, 23 October 2014
AD HOC COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS ON ROMA ISSUES (CAHROM)
THEMATIC REPORT ON Roma women empowerment and gender dimension of Roma inclusion POLICIES/STRATEGIES
(further to the CAHROM thematic visit to Vilnius, Lithuania, on 3-6 June 2014)
Expert from LITHUANIA, requesting country:
Mrs Gražina SLUŠKO, Responsible for Roma issues, Division of National Minority Issues, Ministry of Culture
Experts from FINLAND, ITALY, THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, AND SPAIN, partner countries:
Ms Sarita FRIMAN-KORPELA, Senior Adviser, General Secretary of the Advisory Board on Romani Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Ms Maja BOVA, Expert on non-discrimination-related policies and Roma inclusion, Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities, National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR), Presidency of the Council of Ministers
Republic of Moldova:
Ms Cristina RADUCAN, Human Resources Director, ICS Dopomoga Group representative SRL
Ms Beatriz DOMÍNGUEZ LÓPEZ, Spanish Women´s Institute, Technician of European Programmes, Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.2Composition of the thematic group of expertspage
1.3Agenda of the thematic visitpage
II. CONTEXT AND EXPECTATIONSpage
2.1Context of the CAHROM thematic report and visitpage
2.2Expectations and items for discussionpage
2.3Size and composition of the Roma groups in the participating countriespage
2.3.4 Republic of Moldovapage
2.3.5 Spain page
2.4 Situation of Roma women and girls and main problems encounteredpage
2.4.4 Republic of Moldovapage
III. EUROPEAN AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND REFERENCE TEXTS page
IV. LEGISLATION, POLICIES, STRUCTURES AND SPECIFIC MEASURESpage
4.4Republic of Moldovapage
V. CONCLUSIONS, LESSONS LEARNT AND GOOD PRACTICES IDENTIFIEDpage
5.1Conclusions, good practices and lessons learnt page
5.1 As regards the preparation and organisation of the thematic visit page
5.2 Overall conclusions (for participating countries and beyond)page
5.3 As regards Lithuaniapage
5.4 As regards Finlandpage
5.5 As regards Italypage
5.6 As regards the Republic of Moldovapage
5.7 As regards Spainpage 5.8 Immediate and mid-term follow-up page
Appendix 1: Formal invitation to CAHROMpage
Appendix 2:Agenda of the thematic visitpage
Appendix 3:List of participants of the thematic visitpage Appendix 4: European and international standards and reference texts page
Note: An ADDENDUM TO THE THEMATIC REPORT including all presentations collected during the CAHROM thematic visit is available to the Secretariat upon request.
V. CONCLUSIONS, LESSONS LEARNT AND GOOD PRACTICES IDENTIFIED
5.1 Conclusions and lessons learnt
5.1 Conclusions as regards the preparation and organisation of the thematic visit
5.2Overall conclusions (applicable to participating countries and beyond)
The thematic visit proposed by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture was seen as a very positive experience both by the Lithuanian experts and the partner country experts. The CAHROM thematic visit to Lithuania confirmed that the situation of Roma women and girls deserves increased attention by policy makers and should be more reflected in national policies/strategies/action plans for Roma. In that respect, the experts made the following general conclusions:
The experts of the thematic group noted with great interest the greater role taken by the CAHROM in addressing the situation of Roma women and girls in Council of Europe member States through the inclusion of a gender-based approach in various thematic reports (e.g. those related to education) and through the appointment of a Committee rapporteur on gender equality.
5.3 Conclusions, good practices and lessons learnt concerning Lithuania
Partner countries’ experts found very positive the initiative from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture to request the thematic visit on Roma women empowerment and gender dimension of Roma inclusion policies and its intention to pay particular attention to gender mainstreaming and to Romani women and girls as a way to address gender inequalities during the revision of its National Action Plan on Roma Integration into the Lithuanian Society 2012-2014.
During the field visits to Kirtimai settlement in Vilnius and to Panevėžys, it was obvious for partner countries’ experts that Ms Gražina Sluško in charge of Roma issues in the Ministry of Culture was well known by the local actors and the Roma community who trusts her. However, they had the impression that the Ministry of Culture, which has directly responsible for the Roma portfolio, would need stronger involvement from other line ministries since obviously the Ministry of Culture has a limited scope of action when it comes to issues related to housing, employment, education, health, justice, etc. A coordinated approach through an inter-ministerial cooperation with other line ministries would be strongly advisable so as to provide integrated solutions.
The group of experts realized during the visit that Lithuanian Roma, being a relatively small Roma population (not exceeding 3,000) was not receiving enough political attention by national or local authorities, nor could they benefit from many European programmes which too often target countries with bigger Roma populations.
Roma women in Lithuania do not have sufficient skills to be able to produce regular income. During the field visit in Kirtimai settlement, Roma women presented a business and entrepreneurship initiative (based on traditional crafts) which is financially supported by the Ministry of Culture. The latter has unfortunately not financial and technical capacity to follow-up on such initiatives in the longer term. Among various suggestions to improve the socio-economic situation of Roma, and women in particular, the group of experts mentioned a stronger focus on vocational training and socio-economic empowerment with a particular emphasis on Roma women (as practiced e.g. in Spain), as well as the development of a micro-credit scheme for entrepreneurship projects. Since Roma women in Lithuania are largely engaged with taking care of children at home, parents’/mothers’ centres could also be envisaged as a way to promote and support Roma women’s autonomy and opportunity to get employment.
In the field of education, the group of experts highlighted the importance of increasing self-confidence and motivation of Lithuanian Roma, women and girls in particular. The provision of pre-school and day care services, the promotion of Roma children’s attendance in primary and secondary education, the introduction of English courses and adult education could help preventing school drop outs, combating illiteracy, as well as socio-economic dependence from the state subsidies or from drug-trafficking in the worst scenario. Experts considered that Roma school teaching assistants supported under PROGRESS programme and Roma mediators trained under the ROMED programme should be institutionalised by the Ministry of Education.
The Lithuanian expert from the Lithuanian Institute for Ethnic Studies indicated that there was limited data available on Roma education and employment, and agreed that more data collection is needed, including in the health area, and that data collection should include a stronger gender perspective.
During the field visit, the experts found that early marriage was frequently present among Roma communities living in Lithuania. In the Kirtimai settlement, the average marriage age within the Kalderash Roma is 14-16 in comparison with 16-18 within the Lithuanian Roma group. Early marriage was strongly supported by Roma male leaders met during the visit. Although two Roma women activists expressed disagreement about this practice, their voice is hardly heard beyond some families. The group of experts is of the opinion that early/child marriage poses critical obstacles to personal development, education and health status. The Lithuanian authorities, the Ministry of Education in particular, should support early and primary education as a way to combat illiteracy both among Roma children and adults. The Ombudsperson on Children’s Rights in Lithuania could raise the issue of early/child marriage and take action with relevant state and local authorities so as to ensure that the rights of Roma children are being protected. Organising a public (TV) debate on early marriage between Lithuanian Roma sharing either traditional or modern views was also suggested and was in principle accepted by Roma male and women activists met in Kirtimai, as well as the participation of a Lithuanian expert in a proposed CAHROM thematic group on addressing early marriage within Roma communities.
The poor housing status of Roma living in the Kirtimai settlement in Vilnius has already been largely documented by the Council of Europe (e.g. ECRI and the Commissioner for Human Rights) and international organisations. Having in mind that Kirtimai is the only informal settlement in Lithuania and that Roma families are living there since 1956, the group of experts was surprised that no solution had been found so far to eradicate this settlement and no alternative solutions provided for these families (Spain has a different approach for example). The land where the “houses” are built on belongs to the Ministry of Environment and thus Roma do not have property rights over the “houses”. In order to have a secure housing situation and avoid being constantly under the fear of a possible eviction, Roma living in Kirtimai would need to have their “houses” legalised and obtain property rights through an agreement between the municipality of Vilnius and the Ministry of Environment.
The experts understood that there was a big issue concerning illicit trafficking in drugs and drug addiction among a number of Roma living in Kirtimai which might appear as an obstacle. However, pursuing with this tolerated approach does not seem for the experts of the thematic group to be sustainable in the long run. On the other hand, the Ministry of Health could organise awareness-raising activities on the risks of drug addiction in Kirtimai settlement and together with the Ministry of Justice develop joint actions to combat drug trafficking, using for example the experience of the Pompidou Group.
The group of experts took note that the Dosta! campaign was launched in Lithuania at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education on 8 April 2013 and together with the “Sare Roma” and the “Roma Integration House” associations. The Lithuanian expert expressed the wish to develop additional awareness-raising activities on gender aspects, cautioning against the romanticised and folkloristic approach Roma are sometimes presented by. The examples of Roma women activists that the experts have met during their visit to Lithuania could be promoted as role models within the Roma communities under the Dosta! campaign. Roma women outside the Lithuanian borders who succeeded in their professional career (e.g. the Moldovan and the Finnish experts of the thematic group) could be also promoted as role models in Lithuania to provoke an internal reflexion among Roma women.
In addition, the experts have indicated that Lithuanian public administrations, school teachers and civil servants in general might benefit from anti-discrimination training in order to improve their tools and methodology in working with minority communities, such as the Roma.
The isolation of Lithuanian Roma, both men and women, and their lack of participation at local, national or international level, were underlined by the experts as key obstacles to their empowerment and accountability, and reinforce the cycle of poverty and marginalisation in which Lithuanian Roma find themselves. In turn, making Roma part of development policies and decision-making (e.g. in Finland) will provide the space for making Roma part of the solutions, which are more likely therefore to be effective, sustainable, inclusive and equitable. Roma could also be trained in exercising their voters’ rights.
5.4 Conclusions, good practices and lessons learnt concerning Finland
As regards the general policy approach towards Roma in Finland, the group of experts identified as good practices the following:
As regards the gender dimension of its Roma policy, the group of experts noticed that, whilst Finland is well known in Europe for its gender sensitive approach, it is taken as granted that this gender approach will be applied to its Roma policy. However, when analysing the Finnish National Roma Policy adopted in 2009, the gender dimension is poorly emphasised which, in budgetary terms, results in a lack of funding for Roma women empowerment activities in the National Roma Policy. There is a need for Finland to use more European Structural Funds for this purpose and recruit experts having a gender-oriented background to monitor the gender dimension of its Roma policy. Additional gender training might therefore be needed in public administration.
The Finnish expert underlined that this thematic visit took place at the right momentum since Finland will need to revise its National Roma Policy in the near future and because equality bodies/ombudsmen (on gender, minorities, etc.) are currently going through a reforming process. The group of experts also noted that the Monitoring Steering Group of the Finnish National Policy, in its report from May 2014 proposed that a gender perspective be included in a Revised National Roma Strategy and to include a more accurate monitoring of the situation of Roma women in the future. Should there be a need for additional support for the introduction of a gender perspective in the revised Strategy, Phenjalipe could be invited to Finland.
In the field of education, the group of experts noted that the situation concerning pre-school education (kindergartens) is particularly good (unlike e.g. in the Republic of Moldova). Roma children’s attendance in pre-school increased from 2 to 60% between 2001 and 2011 and the number is expected to rise even more due to the planned introduction of compulsory pre-school education. Looking at the education from a gender perspective, contrary to the situation in most of European countries, there is no big difference between Roma boys and girls in terms of school attendance in primary education. However, more efforts are required in secondary education and at university (this may disproportionately affect Roma girls if they decide to wear a traditional dress). School assistants exist in Finland but are not just for Roma pupils to avoid a stigmatization of Roma children. Mediators and school assistants require certain qualification to be respected and accepted within the school environment. They can benefit from training and therefore obtain certificates and instructor diploma even if they do not have basic school education (skills recognition). A mechanism of assessing school instructors and assistants will be soon put in place.
Housing and health are not major issues for Roma in Finland; however, access to employment is. The group of experts underlined that Finland would need to increase its focus on socio-economic environment and access to employment using for example the Spanish experience or replicating the ACCEDER programme as Italy did.
The group of experts took note that the National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti Communities in Italy 2012-2020 was inspired by both a human rights-based approach and a gender perspective (as cross-cutting issues) and that the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) established, in June 2012, an ad hoc Task Force which involves the Italian National Statistical Institute (ISTAT), the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) and the European Commission’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in order to collect relevant data, and when feasible gender-disaggregated data.
The group also noted that some integrated local action plans have started to be developed after regional working groups consultations.
In the context of the implementation of the abovementioned Strategy, several examples were shared with other experts concerning measures and projects targeting Roma women, such as a project supported by UNAR aimed at enhancing youth and women’s participation implemented in Milan and Bolzano in 2012.
Other good practices identified included the replication of the ACCEDER projects in the field of socio-economic empowerment (already successfully implemented in Spain) and the translation of the EU-ROMA Network guide on the use of EU structural funds.
Generally-speaking, the group of experts considered that Italy has developed an interesting gender-sensitive approach in the health sector. For example, the group of experts was informed about close co-operation between UNAR, the Ministry of Health and the National Institute on Prevention of Poverty-related diseases with the aim to contribute to developing specific initiatives on Roma women’s health, including a specific focus on relevant training modules for health care providers approaching Roma women, and similar guidance for hospitals in Rome. In addition, the National Office of Statistics committed itself to launch a specific survey on violence against foreign women, which might eventually include a chapter on Roma women.
In comparison with Finland, Italy should strengthen its political commitment for the implementation of the National Strategy for Roma Inclusion. Roma women in Italy are negatively impacted, inter alia due to the unsolved problems of informal settlements, unclear legal status or statelessness. Other weak points include the lack of representation and involvement of Roma in political life, in particular Roma women (with very few exceptions), and the absence of Roma women’s organisations, with the exception of one association being constantly threatened by male organisations.
Generally-speaking, the group of experts was of an opinion that Roma women would benefit from the inclusion of a stronger Roma gender perspective into the mainstreamed gender equality approach followed by the Italian authorities.
The group of experts noted with great satisfaction that the 2011-2015 National Action Plan to support Roma Ethnic Group in the Republic of Moldova includes gender dimension which is mainstreamed throughout the Action Plan.
The experts also took note of the publication in March 2014 of a Study on the situation of Romani women and girls in the Republic of Moldova, which can be considered as a good practice. This study was supported by UN Women/UNDP/OHCHR.
In comparison with Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova seems to benefit from a stronger involvement of international actors in the field of Roma. The Roma civil society is also more developed and active (an informal national network of Moldovan Roma women was recently established).
Generally-speaking, the Republic of Moldova benefits from a relatively good equality legislation framework though there is no burden of proof switch which is a shortcoming of existing legislation. Equality bodies can make recommendations to Parliament but they cannot give sanctions. Generally-speaking, equality bodies in the Republic of Moldova would need more awareness on anti-discrimination towards the Roma community.
In the field of education, Roma children may still encounter problems in accessing education and some examples of segregated schools (due to spatial segregation) exist. The republic of Moldova could benefit from the Finnish and Spanish experience in providing pre-school facilities for children in general, and Roma children in particular. The Finnish and Lithuanian experiences of day-care centres and after-school catch-up classes are also relevant for the Moldovan context. There is indeed a problem of enrolment of Roma children in classes that do not correspond to their school age. The group of experts was also interested in a possible assessment of the implementation of the scholarship programme for Roma university students which should be generalised to all faculties.
Lithuania could take inspiration from the implementation of the ROMED programme and the institutionalisation and financing of Roma mediators in the Republic of Moldova.
In the Republic of Moldova there are some examples of empowered Roma women who occupy jobs with responsibilities (such as the Moldovan expert). However, more socio-economic empowerment of Roma women is needed to extend this practice.
In the political sphere, the group of experts noted that a Roma political party has recently been established (though without any Roma women). The Spanish and Finnish examples of participation of Roma women in decision-making and consultation processes were of interest for the Moldovan expert.
Gender is mainstreamed both in the National Roma Integration Strategy 2012-2020 and in its Operation Plan 2014-2016. There might be a need, however, to prioritize gender in the implementation of the National Roma Inclusion Strategy and in the work of line ministries, such as the Ministry of Education.
Spain has developed strong public policies on social and labour inclusion of its Roma population. The group of experts noted in particular the Spanish positive examples of socio-economic empowerment through the ACCEDER projects, programmes and campaigns, some of them being more specifically designed to address Roma women involvement in the labour sector. The positive outcome of these projects has been documented by several studies conducted by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG). The surveys on education, employment, health, housing, etc. include data desegregated by gender, which is a positive example. However, the Spanish expert felt that there was still a need for additional assessment through the prism of gender of projects and policies implemented, especially in the education and employment sectors.
Like in Finland, there is longstanding political will and financial support at all levels (state, regional, local) for Roma inclusion. Nevertheless, there seems to be a need to improve governance and coordination between the various levels of administration in a highly decentralised administrative structure such as the one existing in Spain.
In Spain, this long term and sustainable approach has been successfully combined with the use of European Structural Funds. The group of experts noted that there has been an intentional and persistent increase of the amount of grants awarded to Roma Women NGOs in the last years, namely by the call of grants (regimen general) that supports the administrative capacity of NGOs. Roma Women organisations benefit also largely from the call for grants coming from the 0.7 % of the Personal Income tax (convocatoria de subvenciones con cargo al IRPF). Within the latter call of grants, a special attention is paid to the programmes specifically aimed at the Roma population with a Roam women emphasis, e.g. to the role of Roma women in programmes related to health promotion and education; training programmes for Roma women as health workers in the areas of child care, hygiene, nutrition and prevention of diseases and addictions, as well as the appropriate use of health resources; comprehensive programmes for Roma women, including literacy activities and basic social skills training.
The consultation of Roma civil society on policy measures is ensured through the State Council for the Roma People set up in 2005 where Roma women are represented. Roma women’s interests are also mainstreamed in the Spanish Women’s Institute.
The group of experts took note of the large number of Roma and pro-Roma organisations active in Spain, some of them being internationally recognised (such as the FSG). There are two big federations of Roma women associations (Kamira, a national federation of Roma women organisations and Fakali, a federation of Roma women associations from Andalusia). Roma women’s organisations are active but tend to act individually therefore losing impact. Their capacity and institutional support might be reinforced. The lack of foreign language skills, in particular English, is an additional obstacle for participation in international events and networking.
In the field of education, it was indicated that there is not a big difference between Roma girls and boys in the early school drop-out (65.4% and 63% respectively). In fact, this is opposite to the situation of the majority population where male students have a higher rate of early school leaving. The challenge lies more in addressing the reasons for school drop-outs which differ between Roma boys and Roma girls.
In the context of discussion about Roma migration from Eastern Europe, it was suggested to use the presence of Romani speaking so-called “migrants” from Romania and other EU countries (women in particular) to initiate and support classes of Romani for Spanish Roma who would like to learn the language.
A gender-based approach could be further developed in the Dosta! campaign launched in Spain in 2013, whilst going beyond romantic and folkloric approaches when dealing with Roma women.
For participating countries of this thematic group:
b) addressing and combating trafficking within Roma communities (proposed by Albania);
c) promoting vocational training and socio-economic empowerment (proposed by Poland);
d) fostering Roma participation in politics and decision-making process (proposed by Spain).
For the Finnish and Italian experts:
For the Finnish expert/Gender Rapporteur:
For the Italian expert:
For the Lithuanian expert:
For the Moldovan expert:
For the Spanish expert:
For the CAHROM Secretariat:
For international actors:
Appendix: agenda of the CAHROM thematic visit
PROGRAMME OF THE VISIT
OF THE CAHROM THEMATIC GROUP OF EXPERTS IN LITHUANIA
ON THE EMPOWERMENT OF ROMA WOMEN AND GENDER DIMENSION OF ROMA POLICIES
(VILNIUS, LITHUANIA, 4-6 JUNE 2014)
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Venue: Ministry of Culture, address: J. Basanavičiaus 5, Vilnius
9.15-9.30Registration and coffee
9.30-9.45 Opening words and presentation of the purpose of the CAHROM thematic visit
- Mr Edvard Trusevič, Deputy Minister of Culture
- Mr Michaël Guet, Head of the ”I-Care” Unit, Secretary of CAHROM, Support Team of the SRSG for Roma issues, Council of Europe
9.45-12.30EXCHANGE OF VIEWS AND EXPERIENCES ON “THE EMPOWERMENT OF ROMA WOMEN AND GENDER DIMENSION OF ROMA INCLUSION POLICIES”
9.45-10.30Introduction to the topic:
Introductory presentations by the host country on the situation of Roma community in Lithuania:
Discussion, questions and answers
10.30-12.30 Empowerment of Roma women and gender dimension of Roma inclusion policies: experience from Finland, Italy, the Republic of Moldova, and Spain
Discussion, questions and answers
14.00Departure to the Roma community centre in Kirtimai settlement (Parubanka), Vilnius
14.30-16.30 Field visit to Kirtimai settlement, Vilnius
- Ms Svetlana Novopolskaja, Director of Roma Community Centre, presentation of the activities of the Roma Community Centre
- Ms Božena Karvėlienė, Roma Integration House, presentation of the projects for Roma women empowerment
Discussion with the local Roma community
18.00Welcome dinner in Trakai and debriefing of the first day during the dinner
Thursday, 5 June 2014
9.00-11.00 Meeting with the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman and civil society representatives
11.00 Departure to Panevėžys
13.00 Lunch in Panevėžys
14.00-16.30Field visit to Panevėžys (130 km from Vilnius)
Venue: Children day care centre, Panevėžys
Discussion with the local Roma community and partner countries’ experts
16.30 Departure to Vilnius
Friday, 6 July 2014
Venue: Hotel or Ministry of Culture
9.30-11.30Debriefing meeting between the experts of the CAHROM thematic group (from the host and partner countries) and the Secretariat of the Council of Europe
11.30Checking-out from the hotel.
12.00-13.00Lunch at the hotel / Departure from the hotel to Vilnius airport.
 The term “Roma” used at the Council of Europe refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as Gypsies.
 During the time of the visit, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson was acting as the Ombudsperson on Children’s Rights.
 Report available at:
 The Finnish expert participating in the thematic group is occupying the position of CAHROM Rapporteur on gender equality.
 Apart from a couple of brick-houses, most of the Roma in the Kirtimai settlement live in shacks.
 See Pompidou Group website: ?
 Finnish Roma (called Kaalés) are estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000.
 See the Study on Intimate Partner and Domestic Violence experienced by Roma Women (2013) and the report of Roma women prisoners (2013).
 See in that respect the results of EIGE studies.
 Activities targeted to Roma women are often religious by nature or concentrated in children’s upbringig, which underline a conservative approach. The empowerment of Roma women is often seen as providing a break from household duties.
 The difference is less than 2%. For further information, consult the CAHROM thematic report on school attendance of Roma children (with Finland as a requesting country) at .
 The term “Nomadi” is no longer officially used. Roma, Sinti and Caminanti are estimated to be around 140,000 in Italy; half of them are Italian citizens.
 For the European Commission’s approval of this Strategy, see EC Communication Memo, No 226 of 21 May 2012.
 The results of this study - which was announced at a CEDAW debate in New York in July 2011 - are expected to be delivered in June 2015.
 For further information, consult the CAHROM thematic report on solving the legal status of Roma from ex-Yugoslavia and their lack of personal documents (with Italy as a requesting country) at .
 There are no exact figures regarding the number of Roma living in the Republic of Moldova. The official data of 2004 is very low (12,271). Data collected in 2001 by the Bureau of Interethnic relations suggest that the figure is closer to 20,000. Roma leaders claim that there could be up to 250,000 Roma living in the Republic of Moldova.
 Spanish Roma (called Gitanos) are estimated to be approximately 725,000-750,000.
 Source: .
 Spain could not send an expert due to very short notice; instead, Mr Marcos Andrade from the Council of Europe ROMED Secretariat made a presentation at this Conference.
 CoE, EC, OSF, EEA/Norway Grants, REF, UNDP, UNICEF, OHCHR, UN Women, OSCE, FRA, EIGE, Roma Decade, etc.