Women’s rights, entrepreneurship among highlights in new Roma inclusion action plan
Strasbourg, 07.03.2016 – A new “thematic action plan” for Roma and Traveller (*) inclusion approved by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers kicks off innovative programmes to empower Roma and Traveller women and girls, protect the most vulnerable groups and foster entrepreneurship within Roma communities.
The €20m four-year plan (2016-2019) will include awareness raising activities at a local level to help curb early or forced marriages, domestic violence, trafficking and forced begging in Roma communities by addressing negative consequences of such activities. It will foster school attendance and help prevent early school-leaving and absenteeism, particularly of girls.
Starting this year in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Romania, the plan will establish new services, such as legal counsel and legal clinics, to improve access of Roma and Traveller women to justice. Legal professionals and law enforcement officials also will be trained.
The plan includes entrepreneurship training for Roma women through pilot projects in the Southeast European region by the Council of Europe Development Bank in co-operation with the European Commission. Two “Roma Women’s International Conferences” planned for 2017 and 2019 will promote gender equality and empowerment.
Specific education programs will encourage democratic leadership within Roma and Travellers communities to foster Roma youth leaders via a “Roma and Travellers Youth Academy”.
The plan follows through on the “Strasbourg Declaration on Roma”, a strategic document emanating from a 2010 high-level meeting in Strasbourg that set out a roadmap for Roma-related legislation, policy and practice to ensure protection of Roma rights and dignity, provide equal opportunities and improve their living conditions.