On 10th and 11th July 2015, the European Roma and Travellers Forum in partnership with Phenjalipe, Grassroots initiative and the International Roma Women’s Network (IRWN), organised the first training on strengthening Roma women’s capacities and leadership skills for achieving greater involvement in politics under the framework of the “Making Roma Women's Voices and Votes Count” project.
The aim of this project is to empower Roma women in policy-making and increase their participation in the political process in Finland, Sweden, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The project focuses primarily on increasing the effectiveness of advocacy activities with the political parties at a local and national level, to secure the future representation of Roma women’s at the next local, national and EU elections.
Therefore this project seeks to address the following problems: (a) inadequate support for Roma women participating in political processes which is exacerbated by their limited knowledge of the frameworks which support women’s equality, inclusion, advocacy and alliance strategies, and policy making, which in turn constrains their effective participation; (b) the limited mobilisation and understanding by Roma women in general about their rights, the political system and processes and strategies to participate, which constrain them from improving their living conditions and making the government accountable and (c) the negative perceptions of Roma women due to ethnic discrimination amongst the general public and government officials.
Without strategic interventions to address these problems, it is very likely that Roma women will remain side-lined in decisions and processes that affect their lives. As the number of Roma women participating increases, combined with increased effectiveness, they will be able to better influence policy debates from a gender and development perspective.
The project is financially supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.