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'Empowering Roma women is an opportunity for our societies'

“Empowering Roma and Traveller women is crucial to achieving equality of opportunities, for all Roma and Travellers in European societies,” said Gabriela Heinrich (Germany, SOC), General Rapporteur on combating racism and intolerance, on the occasion of International Roma Day (8 April 2018).

“In addition to anti-gypsyism, these women face gender based violence. Extreme violations of human rights such as forced sterilisations have not always been compensated for, and States continue to fail to address issues that disproportionately affect women and girls in some Roma and Traveller communities, such as forced or child marriage or human trafficking,” she added.

“On International Roma Day, I wish to pay special tribute to the thousands of Roma and Traveller women around the world working as doctors, politicians, teachers, lawyers, mediators, researchers, leaders of NGOs or in other professions, and whose work helps to improve other people’s lives or serves as an inspiration for them. But we have to empower especially the many other Roma and Traveller women who continue to be held back by entrenched discrimination, poverty and persistent anti-Gypsyism,” Ms Heinrich claimed.

Roma women can play a key role in building inclusive societies, in which all persons belonging to their communities can participate on an equal footing, free of discrimination, stigmatisation and prejudice. We need more Roma and Traveller women in national parliaments and decision-making bodies at all levels. Empowering them is in everyone’s interests. More and more States are adopting strategies and action plans to promote the inclusion of Roma and Travellers. Today I invite national parliaments and political leaders to ensure that gender equality and the empowerment of Roma and Traveller women form an integral part of such work,” she concluded.