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How to Become an Inclusive Society for Roma People

Many people have already been introduced with the Indo-Aryan tribe so-called Roma. The Roma are minority ethnic people who faced migration across Europe for many years. The Roma culture has a rich oral tradition, which has been passed on for generations. Often shown as authentic and strange, they experienced discrimination and persecution for centuries, even nowadays. Even though they are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Europe – about 12 million to 15 million people, according to UNICEF,  70 percent of them are living in Eastern Europe. They were forced to move with their prosecution history, so they are known as a nomadic tribe. They left an imprint as nomads and outsiders thus a few attended school.

The EU framework for national Roma integration strategies is centred around four key areas: education, employment, healthcare and housing. Each country produced a Roma strategy, assessed by the European Commission in 2012.

Roma’s Problem Throughout the Years and Different Societies 

After thousands of years, Pandora’s Box was finally opened and it was realised that having fundamental human rights is no luxury so-called.  Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected. According to UN human rights(OHCHR) and the joint European Union, everyone has the right to live, the right to be respected for his or her physical and mental integrity, social inclusion, having a decent job and treated with love and respect. Numerous Roma struggle to ensure the full enjoyment of their economic and social rights, including the right to education, employment, adequate housing and health. Because of the inability to find a decent job or just a job at all, as a consequence of society’s prejudice, Roma families, as known, face financial problems and a small number are involved in the private sector. Facilitating access to skills and access to finance will lead to employment and self-employment of Roma people. This approach complements the socio-economic inclusion of marginalised Roma with fostering equality and promoting participation. All Roma should have the opportunity to realise their full potential and engage in political, social, economic, and cultural lives. Facing hatred and human rights abuse, they are unlikely to find their place in the society where their needs are being neglected. Having a different skin colour or a different language, as well as not being able to require the needed education and skills for progress because of those differences is the wrong direction the society is heading. With no further education, there is a lack of qualification, and lack of capability, there is a lower chance of finding a job and providing a good life to their family. Additionally, the situation of Romani women needs to be improved through promotion, support and facilitate the empowerment of Romani women and girls in practice, Inform and raise awareness of state authorities, legislators, policymakers and relevant actors on the status of  Romani women and girls, for they have a determinant role in improving the living conditions of the Romani families.

Roma in North Macedonia 

According to the 2002 census, about 53,879 Roma live in Macedonia or 2.66% of the total population. If we draw a parallel, the events will be noticed that the Roma are growing in contradiction with their history. Many Roma has taken an essential place in society and has been an example of successful people with their own story to tell or actions that speak for themselves. It is a well-known fact that the only  Roma municipality in the world in which Roma has its own mayor and can exercise their national rights is Suto Orizari in Skopje, North Macedonia. From a legal point of view, the Romani community is not regarded as an ethnic minority group in every state, and thus it does not enjoy the rights pertaining to this status in all of the countries concerned. One of the main problems is that they are not registered in the system. They do not have documents so they can not enjoy all the basic needs such as education and socialisation, thus developing manners that lead to non-acceptance by society.

What can be done? 

I would like to pay tribute and attention to several individuals who are considered to be an inspiration in our country Esma Redzepova, singer or also known as the queen of Roma song, as well she has been known for her humanitarian motives and many others who are authentic in field of art, music, involvement in politics. Furthermore, there are organisations working in favour of Roma communities such as NRC. They implement a project that involves Roma people, preventing discrimination against Roma children, strengthening the health of Roma woman, and changing the Roma narratives in health care institutions where they aim to mobilize Roma for acquiring knowledge and skills to promote and work on their health. Аlso there are projects implemented by the Ministry of labour and social affairs such as Roma information centres and by so they have succeeded to open 12 Roma information centres in 12 different municipalities around North Macedonia, the inclusion of Roma children in kindergarten where they included 4.700 Roma children in 19 municipalities for free. In Macedonia, an example for a successful company that stands for Roma, social inclusion or vulnerable groups is the magazine “Face to face” which is an independent street magazine dedicated to universal values, social justice, the principles of equality, democracy and humanity. 

How does “Face to face” do it?

The secret methodology  is: core values in place and continuous effort towards their goals through:

1. Offering practical solutions for poverty reduction, more significant employment and alleviating social and cultural exclusion, creating conditions, and providing opportunities for marginalised groups to legally earn income, employment, and encouraging specific and practical knowledge and skills, i.e. for social and economic inclusion.

2. Launching and regularly publishing an independent magazine, Face to Face enriches the domestic media scene with high quality, a unique type of publication, intended for the entire readership, and with a robust activist orientation, expressed social sensitivity, care for environmental protection, openness to the new, the different, the alternative and the marginalised about the usual of each kind.

As the world starts to expand, we get to grow, so let’s outgrow together all the differences, negativities and surround ourselves with inspiration. We can all make a difference and contribute to an equal livelihood for everyone, if we just take a moment and appreciate everything we have, help each other grow and simply become the change we want to see in the world! 

Elena Bacheva

Elena Bacheva is Research and Development Assistant at Impact Foundation. "Be the change you want to see in the world.".A diverse individual that is eager for knowledge and devoted to improving herself. A Former leader in Red Cross, a local branch of Veles and a certified Peer educator. Very enthusiastic, ambitious, lover of nature and adventure. Think outside, no box is required.