The impoverished port city of Cartagena in south Spain is challenged by a great risk of polarization, as the far right party continues getting huge political power. Our city needs empowered social leaders to defend the values of tolerance, diversity and democracy. As the only feminist Roma women association in Spain, we run a local leadership school for Roma women, where they enhance their political and mediation skills for building cross-cultural bridges for dialogue, with a grassroots approach
The project takes place in the neighborhood “Las 600” in Cartagena, Murcia region, south Spain.
The Murcia region is currently facing a threat of polarization. In the 2019 general elections, the far right party VOX got its national best results in Cartagena, obtaining the first majority with 31% of votes. Since their emergence, racist and anti-Roma discourses have proliferated, which has negatively affected the living-together of citizens. In Cartagena, there is a strong need for community self-organizing for confronting this threat. Roma women have been systematically under-represented in the public sphere. As they embody values of feminism, diversity and tolerance, they should be key actors for these necessary community dialogues. Our local feminist school is an asset for building bridges between citizens with different backgrounds engaged in contributing for positive change.
Our main target groups are:
- 50x: Roma women, aged 15-72, who´s leadership skills and active citizenship will be promoted through the feminist local school.
- 80x: Local civil society organizations and citizens, including: neighborhood association, feminist 8M group, neighbor’s platform against forced eviction, other feminist groups of the region.
- 60x: Residents with different backgrounds and political ideas who have no civic engagement or have felt regularly excluded, such as newcomers, elderly and young persons, migrants (also undocumented migrants).
- Local public actors who are interested in creating dialogue and leveraging the feminist Roma perspective, and therefore possible allies, like the municipality, the office for equality, and political parties (all, excepting VOX).
1. Running a Feminist school for Roma women, with weekly meetings. Steps:
A) Reaching out to Roma women. We have 32 participants on board (aged 15–72), and expect to reach 50. B) Hiring school coordinator, IT specialist and trainers. C) Defining the program on a participatory basis. Possible courses are: gender based-violence, sexual and reproductive health, participation, mediation, and more “physical” courses by which we address issues of sense of belonging, body language and leadership skills. D) Inviting stakeholders (civil society actors, public institutions) to share their ideas and participate in round tables, which will take place every 2-3 months.
2. Organizing an Interracial Gathering, bringing together Roma women and other feminist groups, who will work on strategies for building bridges for dialogues.
3. Organizing low threshold dialogue spaces open to interested neighbors with different backgrounds, every 3-4 months. We will ask the municipality if they want to collaborate; but, at least two of the dialogues will take place outside of any institutional space, so that everybody can come (for example, even those who don’t have a regular migration status).
4. Performing 3 public civic acts, at key dates for Roma people, reaching at least 300 community members.
5. Regularly implementing lessons learned from the Circles of Change activities.
1.Roma women get empowered and reinforce visibility of their political voice, by gaining leadership skills with a feminist approach and by building community alliances.
2.Increased understanding and empathy among local citizens with different political ideas, including those who normally don’t participate in civil spaces. They communicate beyond prejudices and gain awareness on common struggles and goals.
3.A basis of a common agenda of neighborhood´s stakeholders to effectively confront the rise of the extreme right.
4.On the longer term, it shall lead to shrinking stigma and reinforcing Roma women´s position. Their feminist leadership will change the way public administration relates to them: their agency will be acknowledged and more bottom–up initiatives will be implemented
- By empowering and developing leadership skills of Roma women, through non-formal education with a feminist approach, so that they can raise their voice and establish alliances for cross-cultural cooperation.
- By bringing together civil society actors, public institutions and local citizens (both native and migrant) for exchanging ideas and perspectives and for developing strategies for confronting the extreme right.
- By generating more empathy among citizens, through low threshold and inclusive spaces for dialogue. Locals that are normally excluded from such spaces will have the chance to engage with those whose opinions and perspectives differ, sharing points of view, challenging prejudices, identifying common struggles and putting together goals and demands they can agree on.
The feminist Roma school is run by Gitanas Feministas, who are Roma women who live and work in Las 600. The idea stems from a need for them to come together to reflect on intersectionalities determined by gender, ethnicity and social class and to put together their own political voice. Calala believes in the power of the local and thinks that women themselves should define the approach of their projects. To us, the feminist leadership school is an outstanding case of women empowerment and bottom-up intervention. Team members are: Ana Hernández from Gitanas Feministas and Paula Riedemann from Calala. Ana is the leader of the school, with vast experience in organizing and advocacy work. Paula is project manager at Calala with wide experience in project management, reporting and networking.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs: 22.800 €
Travel costs, accommodation and subsistence: 2.200 €
Event costs: 800 €
Fees and honoraries: 7.350 €
Public relations: 1400 €
Administrative expenses: 2.450 €
Unforseen: 500 €
* 2.500€ are already secured for the period.
We are interested in establishing dialogue with grassroots and self-organized women groups all over Europe. We also would love to hear to what extend you think a project like ours could benefit Roma women communities in your region.