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Roma Women Ditch the Script

World  (tags: 'CIVILLIBERTIES!', 'HUMANRIGHTS!', conflict, ethics, freedoms, GoodNews, HumanRights, humanrights, children, politics, society, world )

- 1835 days ago -
"Things are changing and we are part of that change," said Katalin, today the executive director of Romedia Foundation, where she uses film to change how people perceive Roma communities Not an easy job, as hatred of Romahas been woven into Europe's cult

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JL A (281)
Wednesday April 10, 2013, 2:20 pm
Roma Women Ditch the Script

Roma activists filming "I’m a Roma Woman" campaign in Budapest, Hungary.

When Katalin Bársony’s grandmother wanted to send her daughter to high school in Budapest, her husband said she would become an “outsider whore.” Her grandmother didn’t listen to him, went against tradition and as a result, Katalin’s mother became a well-known activist for Roma rights.

When it was Katalin’s turn to go to school, there was no question about her right to education. Even though only one in ten Roma children complete high school in Hungary, she went to university and bucked the patriarchal tradition and anti-Roma prejudice that prevented many of her girl friends from even getting through schoolhouse doors.

At the age of 23, Katalin directed the first-ever documentary series on Roma communities around the world. Mundi Romani, a project of Global Fund for Women grantee partner, Romedia Foundation, was broadcasted on TV stations all over Hungary and received numerous awards. After an episode uncovering the death of 28 Roma due to the worst lead poising in Europe’s history, the Roma refugee camp was closed and around 3,000 people relocated to a safer, nevertheless segregated, neighborhood.

“Things are changing and we are part of that change,” said Katalin, today the executive director of Romedia Foundation, where she uses film to change how people perceive Roma communities. Not an easy job, as hatred of Romahas been woven into Europe’s cultural fabric for hundreds of years.
A History of Social Exclusion

At 12 million, Roma are the largest and most discriminated minority in Europe. Roma communities are isolated in ghettos and have trouble getting jobs because employers don’t want to hire Roma workers. Roma students are segregated into substandard schools and often sent to institutions for children with mental disabilities. There is such an inequality in health care that infant mortality rates are doubled and the average lifespan for Roma is around 10 years lower than the rest of the population, according to an OSCE study.

On top of all this, Roma women experience high levels of violence and in many traditional Roma communities a woman’s job is only to support her family. When they do exist, data on Roma women show that they are less educated and fare worse economically than their male counterparts.

Katalin Bársony, Executive Director of Romedia Foundation.
Roma Women Rise Together

Despite these statics, Roma women are the most powerful agents of change as they relentlessly challenge the “customary” ways women are treated in Roma communities and in the society beyond. Global Fund has doubled our support for Roma women’s rights organizations over the past three years and we’ve seen some major wins.

Roma women activists advocated for and won the European Court of Human Rights condemnation of the Czech authorities’ practice of forced sterilization. In Macedonia, Roma women’s organizations are going beyond providing services to local communities by connecting with like-minded groups so they are better positioned to fight for social justice together.
Funding Change

Global Fund steps in with general support for Roma women’s organizations because often times, local authorities in Eastern Europe are unwilling to spend or be seen as spending on the Roma community and “women’s issues.” At the same time, spending on housing, education and health care, which should improve the situation of both the majority population and Roma women, often stops where the Roma neighborhood starts.

“If you just throw money at the problem, but neglect changing society, then nothing will happen,” said Gabriela Hrabanova, Policy Coordinator at European Roma Grassroots Organizations Network and RomaReact.
A New Future

One of the only ways to fight prejudice is to change cultural norms - change the way people perceive and relate with their Roma neighbors. This is a serious undertaking that requires work across generations. Knowing this, Katalin and her colleagues train Roma girls to use media so they can become advocates of a different vision for their community.

“You have to keep moving, even when it seems that the work is leading nowhere, the impact will come later,” said Gabriela about what motivates her. “You have to sacrifice to make life better.”

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Wednesday April 10, 2013, 2:39 pm

Oh, THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this Judi! (Read it earlier.)

I, actually, dated a Roma man a long, long time ago. When he explained to me that, although both men and women are functionally illiterate in their culture, it's actually the women who provide the household income (and that the men are still in charge) . . . I wondered why in HELL the women never stood up for themselves.


Angelika R (143)
Wednesday April 10, 2013, 3:52 pm
Very true, Carole and I also thank JL for highlighting this important issue. especially over here it is a wide spread problem but now we do not see the Roma women forced to sit in the streets and beg any longer as was the case several years ago. There used to be a high criminality as well. Macedonia is THE country with the biggest problem and the most wide spread hatred; even today they continue to call them gypsies and spread lies that ALL are just thieves.
Good on this woman for all her achievements, time this is tackled and the situation bettered for these women.

JL A (281)
Wednesday April 10, 2013, 3:58 pm
You are welcome Carole and Angelika. And thank you both for adding information about this issue to help others have a greater understanding of the significance of things in this article.
You cannot currently send a star to Angelika because you have done so within the last day.

Vicky P (476)
Wednesday April 10, 2013, 6:02 pm
Yes, it's great to hear about them in a good light once in awhile :) I hope they keep growing

Lynn D (0)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 3:49 am
I have NEVER heard of these people and it's all so very sad. Hope it works and the change is coming quicker then they hope! Thanks for all the info!

Past Member (0)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 4:06 am
Noted, thanks.

Gloria picchetti (304)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 4:49 am
Once Roma go to school they start working and paying rent.

Frans Badenhorst (582)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 5:07 am
very nice post Judy, thanks for highlighting this....

Past Member (0)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 5:59 am
They still call them travellers over here and are not trusted and are still known as thieves

JL A (281)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 8:01 am
You are welcome Natalie and Frans. Sounds like change is happening at different speeds in different countries for the Roma--maybe related to whether leaders such as in this article have emerged.

Past Member (0)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 8:17 am
Always, minorities suffer . Really unfortunate . Noted , thanks .

alicia m (97)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 9:55 am
noted, gracias

JL A (281)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 9:55 am
You are welcome Samir and Alicia.

Sheila S (50)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 10:01 am
Great article! Especially in light of Hungary's oppressive new political regime.

Birgit W (160)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 2:39 pm
Very good! Way to go.

Yvonne White (229)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 3:42 pm
My sons went to school with a Roma boy, but I don't know if he had sisters.. The "king of the Gypsies" lived near Iuka, IL.& was buried in Salem, IL. " Gypsy Royalty/East Lawn Cemetery:
Located: Northeast corner of East Main (US 50) and Shelby.
Members of the Joles and Broadway Families have had a tradition for years of visiting Salem every Memorial Day weekend and elaborately decorating the graves of their deceased loved ones. The gypsy clan have buried their people in Salem for many years.


JL A (281)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 3:44 pm
Thanks Yvonne for sharing a piece of Roma tradition and history in the US so all are aware it isn't exclusively European.

Yvonne White (229)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 3:54 pm
The big funeral in the 1980's was amazing, hundreds of people were in the was very exciting for a relatively small town.

marie C (163)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 4:45 pm

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 9:01 pm
Interesting, so many stories to be told about prejudice around the world.

Fred Krohn (34)
Friday April 12, 2013, 11:28 am
Good to see another culture surviving, thriving, and expanding after Nazi persecution. If idiot people cease prejudice against the Roma and offer them jobs, they have no need to steal and become good citizens, even if they never stay put.

Past Member (0)
Friday April 12, 2013, 12:38 pm
First a Roma is a gypsy, 2nd if they acted like Katalin they wouldn't be despised and hated, even more so by those that have contact with them.

Joanne Dixon (38)
Saturday April 13, 2013, 3:31 pm
Hmm - if you're going to dress up like someone for Hallowe'en methinks it would behoove you to know a little bit about them.

Melania P (122)
Tuesday April 23, 2013, 3:10 pm
Wish them the best
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