4 International Roma Women’s Conference

The Fourth International Conference of Roma Women organized by the Council of Europe and the Finnish Government in Helsinki, Finland, on 16-17 September 2013, gathered more than 100 Roma women from different countries.

Under the title of the conference” Act now for the equal future” conference provided the opportunity to Roma women to address on the international scene the issues affecting their lives and that of their families.Face with the lack of concrete steps taken to date in advancing their cause, they came together to raise their concerns, give evidence by their testimony and raise awareness.The lack of concrete steps by governments to advance the situation of Roma women through concrete measures has encouraged them to view the Council of Europe led women’s conference as a space where they themselves can define actions and plans that they can  advocate for among national governments and International Organizations or that they can lead and implement themselves. The woman send a clear message to the government that they have a policy proposal and that they can be future partners in policy implementation process.

Ms. TarjaHalonen Former President of Finland who said congratulated the Roma women for the initiatives and promised her support to the cause.Mr. JeroenSchokkenbroek Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues (Council of Europe), different ministers from Finland and Norway,Mr. Jan Truszcynski Director General, DG of Education, Training, Culture and Youth (European Commission) mentioned that Roma women need to have the power for being equal and that they have the capacity to give the right recommendation for the policy makers.

Interesting part of the conference were also workshops.Education as a precondition for the fulfillment of the rights of Roma, Advancement of the Rights and Gender Equality of Roma women in society and Community Mobilization, Enhancement of Active  Citizenship, Participation and Networking of the Roma women, that were some of the topics.

The Roma women participated in different workshops just to share with each other their experiences from the grassroots level. Real stories came from reality but this time was different they were able to find the solutions about their problemssuggest concrete follow-up actions for Governments. The women produced a strategic document on Roma Women policies containing recommendations for the main stakeholders, the Roma women themselves, Governments and International Organizations. Main international stakeholders (CoE, EC, FRA, OSCE-ODIHR, UN,OSI) had the opportunity to draw on the discussions with participants to improve or modify policy initiatives.