Romano Kher - Roma House
For last 30 years nearly all policies targeting Roma population have been adopted without proper participation of Roma. The main objective of the project is to build credible non-partisan advisory body for designing policies. Place where young educated Roma could co-operate on policies adoption with local, regional, and national governments. Target group are young Roma mostly from rural areas with high Roma population and low political representation.
Ostrovany, Spišský Štvrtok, eastern Slovakia; Zlaté Klasy, Šaľa, western SVK; Kráľ, central SVK;
According to current data Roma represents around 8% of population in Slovakia. Despite the demographics less than 1% of elected officials are of Roma origin. Low representation means insufficient reflection of needs in policies. Another downturn of it, is negative public opinion and low number of role models within communities. This is strongly tied to low self-esteem of rural Roma communities. Eastern Slovakia is the region with highest percentage of Roma making it our primary focus. However, the underrepresentation phenomenon is present in entire country and therefore we are trying to cover more regions with high Roma population entwinned with low representation in public offices.
The Young Roma Congress (YRC) primarily seeks to directly engage young Roma into social and political dialogue among themselves. The social dialogue within communities is a prerequisite to engagement in mainstream society dialogue. The idea to create Roma roundtable has been present for some years now. However, it has never been implemented and currently there is no such body or forum. Important part of the project is to provide members of the congress with trainings to be able to analyze policies, to study good practices and finally to be able to advise on adopted measures. In second stage of the project we would enhance partnerships with municipalities helping directly in adopting new measures targeting Roma.
The main target group are young Roma representing whole range of political spectrum. The secondary beneficiaries are local municipalities that would be able to use the advisory services of the YRC body. The tertiary target group would be inhabitants of rural areas, where consulted policies would be applied. We are currently working on weekly basis with more than 20 young Roma from different parts of Slovakia and different parts of political spectrum. The principle of non-partisanship is crucial for our project since Roma communities are not homogenous groups. Most of these young people already have experience with advocacy activities with municipalities making a sound basis for direct cooperation. We are trying to increase the number of participants gradually.
The first step for our work lies in regular meetings on current social and political discourse. We have already established regular weekly sessions of two committees (Regional development and Education). Second step lies in approaching mayors and municipalities, using our current network. Improving our knowledge of municipal politics in cooperation with partner municipalities and trainers would help our credibility. After initial period we would approach more municipalities with Roma population using our enhanced network and available public data. After expanding, we would start to issue recommendations and statements on public matters. The major event would be a plenary session where all members would meet and together we will define our direction and make ourselves visible.
Our vision for a year from now is to have established mechanism of functioning, have at least five published recommendations. Established cooperation with at least ten rural municipalities with Roma population. Success would be having capacities for day-to-day communication with partners and have running website with capacities to administer it. Stable functioning of the board and being able to hold regular meetings of the plenary. Having at least 50 members from each part of Slovakia. The empowerment of the local communities lies in having a member of the community in an organization representing and advocating for communities all around the country. This would mean an amplified voice of each community and having access to information about current developments on the matter.
Democracy means to be represented in the policy and decision making. Roma are historically underrepresented in every aspect of public life. At the same time Roma make up significant part of European society and European identity. We are seeking to be present in the local policy making at first and from there we want to build up our presence in the regional and national level respecting the bottom up principle. By being a part of the decision making on local level we seek our voice to be finally heard. By having critical number of members, we want to finally have relevant leverage in the discussions. Internally our initiative would mean finally having a forum to discuss our matters in broader perspective, consisting of members from different parts of the political spectrum.
We are all members of Roma community. We are working on more just democracy for Roma for years. We made progress, but we were never able to establish a nationwide forum for internal Roma discussion and communication of our common views. Now the younger generation took the wheel trying to overcome existing obstacles among older generation. Be able to sit around one table would be a major achievement overcoming a shadow from the past that would open a path for more Roma citizens to enter the democratic processes mainly on local level. Being a part of this process is a motivation as such. But being able to work on this goal with support would substantially speed up the process and make our work more efficient. Bring this idea to life means empowering ourselves in the democratic society.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
personnel costs (project assistants, communication team, PR manager) 10 000 EUR + Project manager (1500 EUR own funds)
external trainers & lectors 10000 EUR (6000 EUR secured external funding)
plenary session cost (three day session for 50 people including travel expenses) 6000 EUR +(event management) (2000 EUR own funds)
travel and accommodation 3000 EUR
Graphic identity design 2500 EUR
website design and admin 3700 EUR
social media account administration 1500 EUR
How to make our network more effective and more efficient? How to ensure continuity of the project? How to handle personnel changes without affecting performance? How to keep our network members up to date and motivated? How to build effective regional structures?