Digital deprivation should not become a new obstacle for Roma students

Digital deprivation should not become a new obstacle for Roma students
The Roma are left out as digital citizens and cannot benefit from the simple values of digital citizenship based on respect, education, and protection – Mustafa Jakupov
Find out more about digital divide and how it affects the Roma children and students in this article by Mustafa Jakupov on DigiGen – Research on the Digital Generation

Youth Statement on the occasion of April 8 – International Roma Day 2021

Youth Statement on the occasion of April 8 – International Roma Day 2021

As young people and representatives of Roma youth organisations networks we have met to share our experiences and together celebrate International Roma Day and the 50th anniversary of the first World Romani Congress. While the roots of Romani activism go back to the 19th century, 8 April 1971 constitutes a turning point for Roma communities around the world, when activists moved their struggle to the international arena. We take pride on the achievements of our elders, pioneers and predecessors of the Roma movement.

We acknowledge the efforts of the Council of Europe and its Youth Department towards Roma youth emancipation and empowerment, active youth participation and in combating antigypsyism. We especially welcome the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the inclusion of the history of Roma and Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials and the preparation of a future recommendation on Roma youth participation. Roma arts and culture play a central role in restoring Roma dignity and challenging the predominantly negative image of Roma people among the majority. Roma arts and culture remain greatly under-represented in majority spaces and cultural narratives, both internationally and nationally. This supports dominant discourses and imagery that are negative and stereotypical. More Roma narratives and representations in public spaces are necessary to challenge antigypsyism. By including Roma arts, culture and history in future Roma-focused policies and measures, the Council of Europe member states will send a message that European and national cultural narratives should highlight Roma belonging, contributions and achievements. We take pride on our history, arts and culture; their diversity enriches our communities and our societies.

We want Roma youth to have access to their own culture and have tools to enjoy and promote their cultural identity, history and dignity. We want to fight stigma associated with Roma and to prevent antigypsyism with alternative discourses rooted in self-representation and in Roma leadership.

We express our concern about the continued neglect of several important aspects by policy makers when it comes to Roma youth inclusion. We express our deep concern about the rise of antigypsyism, anti-Roma rhetoric and violent attacks against Roma in Europe, which are supported by some political movements, populist politicians and irresponsible media. Antigypsyism remains a greater challenge in today’s Europe and for young Roma people in our countries. The most frequent concerns for Roma youth are related to racism and discrimination together with access to education, training and schooling. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Roma settlements have been cordoned off, water supplies have been partially cut off, and people have been barred from food and medical supplies. Violent attacks by the police and gendarmerie have occurred several times on Roma communities in the past months.

There is still a lack of knowledge among the majority of society about Roma history, culture, antigypsyism and the Roma Genocide that took place during World War II. Until today the Roma Holocaust still does not form part of the canon of European history and remains largely unknown. In 2015, the European Parliament passed a Resolution declaring 2 August as “European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day” in memory of the at least 500,000 Roma exterminated during the Second World War by the Nazi and other regimes and their allies. Despite this, many governments have not yet officially recognised the historical facts and a common historical responsibility. The Council of Europe should ensure that the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the inclusion of the history of Roma and Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials is implemented.

Social and economic exclusion has just been deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic, as many Roma students found themselves unable to access online education, due to absent infrastructure and equipment (the digital divide), while in the long run it still represents the biggest challenge for Roma youth participation and results in political and cultural exclusion as well. Roma youth are part of the largest and youngest ethnic minority in Europe and strive for economic empowerment and participation. We insist that all necessary measures are taken and funded in order to encourage their economic and educational efforts and enable them to access national labour markets. We want to see Roma youth entrepreneurship highlighted and promoted as an important aspect that could not only contribute to economic empowerment but also strengthen the path of social inclusion and active citizenship of young Roma. We call on the Council of Europe member States to seek active dialogue with Roma youth organisations and to ensure lasting mechanisms of empowerment and participation of young Roma. We call on national governments to allocate national and European funding to invest in Roma youth organisations as engines of change.

Many Roma young people experience multiple discrimination that hinders their human rights; this concerns, among others, LGBTQIA+ Roma, Roma girls, Roma migrants and Roma with disabilities. Acknowledging the great vulnerability of these groups, targeting them with special and complex measures and providing mechanisms to empower them and fight inequalities within and outside of Roma communities is an important challenge, which deserves to be addressed in all EU and national mainstream policies. Approaches that take into account intersectional identities are necessary.

We call on the Council of Europe:
• to improve the good practice of Roma youth involvement and expertise in processes of policy making.
• to improve the coordination of policies concerning Roma youth among European institutions and stakeholders and to improve the communication between these institutions.
• to invest in strengthening the capacity and structures of Roma youth organisations.
• to enable the monitoring of policies being implemented by setting up a permanent working group consisting of Roma youth.
• to call on member states to make Roma Youth a priority within National Roma Strategies. Roma youth organisations must be involved in the National Roma Platforms and in important consultation mechanisms concerning Roma and youth issues.
• to emphasise the importance of double mainstreaming – including Roma issues in youth policies and youth issues in Roma policies and to encourage the European Youth Forum and National Youth Councils to ensure the meaningful participation of Roma youth individuals and organisations in their mainstream structures.

We demand a return to the values that have enriched Europe. These values such as solidarity, respect for diversity and human rights need to be continuously and consistently respected. European society can only be powerful if it has a strong Roma youth. Therefore, all relevant policy measures must be framed by, with and for Roma Youth in respectful and equal cooperation with non-Roma youth and the majority societies as a whole

This statement is also available in French and Romanes, and you can find them here

PECAO Check-in meeting

PECAO Check-in meeting to evaluate project progress and plan ahead!

Almost one year has passed since ERGO Network and its partners have started the implementation of the PECAO project that addresses antigypsyist online hate speech. It has been quite a journey for our project partners within PECAO, as the project itself is being implemented during a global pandemic.

Nevertheless, our partners are extremely dedicated to encouraging positive values within Roma and non-Roma communities, as well as addressing the persisting issue of hate speech and antigypsyism. They have proven themselves motivated and reliable with the responsibilities handed to them. Our network is truly supported by grassroots efforts and we are immensely proud of this.

On 25 and 26 February 2021, the PECAO partners came together to evaluate a year of building our experience and expertise in tackling hate speech online, but also to look into the on-going implementation of the project, to check progress and plan the next steps ahead. We focused on the road so far, looking into what has been smooth and well done; where we were encountering bumps and the moments that we felt lost and were challenged by the given circumstances.

The check-in meeting was important and integral, as we still have a year ahead of us to make a change through our work and project in the online space.

The partners highlighted that the monitoring and peer education are going well, but it was challenging in the beginning to find the correct way to do it, especially face to face meetings, hence most of the activities shifted to be organized online and needed to take everyone’s safety into account.

During the meeting, we also received insights into the work packages led by our partners Integro, Nevo Parudimos and FAGiC. We listened to their reflections on the implementation so far and received heads up for the next period, as we are looking into following up on the conclusions of the stakeholder roundtables organized in their countries as well as continue to work on the monitoring exercise of collecting and reporting antigypsyist online hate speech.

On the meeting, our project officer from DG JUST Helene Lesay was also present and praised the commitment of our team despite the challenges faced.

The meeting concluded with looking into the next steps and milestones, one of them being the EU stakeholder roundtable organized for the 26 April 2021 by ERGO Network called “Online Antigypsyism: A new challenge for Roma inclusion?” where relevant stakeholders such as the European Commission, Google.org, European civil society organisations and other Brussels-level stakeholders, as well as EU policy-makers from across the institutional spectrum are invited to discuss.

Roma Youth Together: Call for Participants

 

Roma Youth Together: Call for Participants

The conference aims at strengthening the knowledge of Roma and Traveller history, culture and identity as a factor enhancing social inclusion and participation of Roma and Traveller young people. Its specific objectives are:
• To support cooperation among Roma and non-Roma youth leaders by meeting, interacting and learning about the role of Roma history and culture in shaping the identities and perceptions of Roma youth in Europe today
• To support the dissemination and usage of Council of Europe standards and educational resources, in particular the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the inclusion of the history of Roma and/or Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials, the handbook “Right to Remember” and the role of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture therein
• To motivate participants and their organisations in their work as multipliers on education about Roma and Traveller history, culture and identity as well as Roma Holocaust Remembrance
• To reflect and about and propose action regarding expressions of antigypsyism today such as online hate speech, Holocaust denial and mis-representations of history
• To collect and disseminate experiences and expectations about promoting the participation and inclusion of Roma and Traveller young people
• To celebrate Roma cultural diversity and associate young people and youth
organisations to the celebrations of the International Roma Day (8 April) and the 50 th anniversary of the First World Romani Congress, held in 1971 in Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom.

Methodology and Programme

The conference will be organised as an online event over 3 days. The programme, methods and technology will be organised so as to favour mutual learning, interaction and dialogue among participants – notably in small discussion groups and workshops.

As a way of sharing experiences and connecting young people all across Europe, participants and partners will be supported to prepare and share an action that they organise or offer to celebrate International Roma Day on 8 April and the 50 th anniversary of the First World Romani Congress and the awakening of a “Romani Movement” to promote Roma history, culture and
identity, and to fight for human rights, justice, equality and better representation at political level. This will be broadcast in connection with a symbolic event at the Council of Europe.

Online/virtual visits to museums or places of remembrance of the Roma Holocaust and expressions of Roma culture, arts and identity will also be proposed in addition to the formal programme of the conference.
The programme contents will be structured on three main issues:

  • 7 April: Roma history and Roma Holocaust Remembrance
  • 8 April: Celebrating Roma history, arts, culture and identity as well as the 50 th anniversary of the emergence of a Romani human rights movement
  • 9 April: Furthering youth action, mobilisation, inclusion and participation

Each thematic will feature key inputs, sharing of experiences and workshops facilitated by partner organisations, including Roma youth organisations. Specific links will be made with projects of the Youth Department and of the Roma and Travellers Team that intersect withyouth participation, history, and remembrance. The conference will close with the presentation of conclusions and proposals for furtheringwork on Roma history with young people and ways to expand Roma youth participation based on double mainstreaming.

Participants
The conference is designed for Roma and non-Roma young people, youth leaders and representatives of organisations and networks working with Roma communities from all across Europe who are also:
• Motivated to share experiences and engage in dialogue and cooperation with other
participants
• Active within a Roma organisation or a (Roma) youth organisation
• Able to work/communicate in English, French or Romani
• Able to connect to the Internet for the time of the conference.
Priority will be given to participants under 30 years of age. The Council of Europe welcomes applications from all candidates who fulfil the profile above, irrespective of gender, disability, marital or parental status, racial, ethnic or social origin, colour, religion, belief or sexual orientation.

How to participate
Participation in the whole event is subject to registration. Open until 26 March at https://youthapplications.coe.int/ Participants attending at least 80% of the conference will receive a certificate of attendance.
More information: eyc.programme@coe.int.

The official call can be found here

 

Reinforced Youth Guarantee – will Roma youth be included?

The Council of the EU adopts a recommendation for more inclusive measures to boost youth employment by reinforcing the Youth Guarantee – Will Roma youth be included?!

On 30th of October, the Council of the European Union adopted by unanimity a Recommendation on ‘A Bridge to Jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee’.  The new scheme affirms the upcoming commitment of the EU Members States to set national schemes in order to help young people receive an offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. This initiative comes at an urgent time across the EU, during the COVID 19 pandemic, which brought high youth unemployment rates and increased the number of young people not in employment, education, or training (NEETs). Even before the crises Roma youth which as it shown in the last data issued by Fundamental Rights Agency 63% of Roma aged 16-24 were not employed, in education or training (55% of young Roma men and 72% of young Roma women

This is not a new initiative, it follows the EU Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee, which numerous studies and ERGO research showed that failed to reach its full potential nor to include the most disadvantaged groups, such as Roma youth.

What is new?

The new Recommendation is considering the concerns of youth organizations and tackles some of the gaps in its implementation, identified as well by ERGO Network. The Recommendation extends the age limit for targeted young people from 25 to up to 29 years old. The new Recommendation also clearly state that the Members States should create supportive measures at national, regional, and local level by providing clear guidelines such as:

  • mapping – identifying target groups, available services, skills needs and young people at risk of becoming a NEET
  • outreach – targeted information campaigns among young people and reaching out to NEETs
  • preparation – better profiling to match needs and responses, counselling, and guidance, and improving digital and other important skills
  • offer – employment incentives, quality and equity, and post-placement support

Now is the moment to make sure that the Member States include the voice of the most deprived in the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, and that they  take into account the situation of Roma youth. One of the main concerns when it comes to the Roma youth is the outreach offer and preparation in a time of pandemic, where many times the ones that need to be a priority are left out due to centuries of discrimination and low standards of education, which is the result of ongoing poverty cycles.

ERGO Network asks Member States to:

  • Invest in continued education (and training): enrolment in formal education or training programs leading to a recognized qualification, keeping in mind an individual approach.
  • Train employment officers and employers to fight antigypsyism: There is a need to train the employment offices as well as potential employers on historical and present antigypsyism, specially to counter the phenomenon during the recruitment process.
  • Improve cooperation between young Roma and labor offices: Governments should encourage a closer communication between labor offices and young Roma people and their civil society representatives, to increase the number of Roma youth engaged with activation programs
  • Hire Roma mediators as social workers/employees of the public employment services and local authorities with the main file and aim to assist Roma youngsters to access the initiatives under the Youth Guarantee, to ensure individual empowerment and ownership.
  • Take a holistic approach: Programs should be created to directly fight youth unemployment with an embraced holistic and multi-sectoral approach, in line with the Active Inclusion Recommendation. Efforts to support young people towards quality education and employment should be complemented by access to adequate income and services such as housing, transport etc
  • A more flexible and accessible registration process of public employment services, to ensure that no young person falls through the gaps and remains out of the social systems of their country – a situation young Roma often find themselves in
  • More partnerships with educational institutions and NGOs who can more easily reach out to Roma and other marginalized groups. This requires dedicated funding that will allow these partners to support the public employment services in the delivery of the Youth Guarantee, or to directly establish contacts with employers and support the skills development of young people.

It will now be up to the Member States to implement the Reinforced Youth Guarantee. We will continue the monitoring and advocating for young Roma people to have quality opportunities through this initiative, on equal footing with majority youth.

For additional information regarding our work on the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment, please contact Policy Officer Carmen Tănasie in the ERGO Network staff (c.tanasie@ergonetwork.org).

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Youth – ERGO Network

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