European Interest

“All Roma face multiple and multi-layered exclusion,” says ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci

OSCE/Piotr Markowski
Roma human rights activists Lois Brookes-Jones and Linda Greta Zsiga speak at an ODIHR event in Warsaw. 25 September 2019.

Greater efforts are needed at all levels to combat the intersecting and overlapping discrimination suffered by Roma and Sinti women, compounded by long-standing social and economic exclusion, said the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) ahead of International Roma Day on 8 April.

“All Roma face multiple and multi-layered exclusion,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “But the disadvantages suffered by Roma women are immeasurably greater. That’s why we need to redouble our efforts to combat racism and discrimination and work towards societies in which Roma women’s rights are respected and they enjoy the same opportunities as all citizens.”

Roma women refugees in particular are currently at higher risk of human trafficking and exploitation, and also need greater access to protection and services.

All countries of the OSCE region have committed to ensuring that the fundamental rights of Roma women are fully protected. More needs to be done by national and local authorities, alone and in co-operation with civil society, to ensure Roma women have access to justice systems and to safeguard them against multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination and gender-based violence. Roma and Sinti women who have been subjected to coercive sterilization must be given access to redress and compensation.

Commitments made by countries across the OSCE include combating discrimination against Roma in access to housing, citizenship and residence, education, employment, and health services. Greater effort is needed to ensure their full inclusion in society, in which the human rights of all people are equally protected.

In line with the Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, it is vital that national authorities engage Roma women and include them in decisions on policy and any other measures that may affect their lives. Later this year, ODIHR will update the Office’s regular findings on the efforts by OSCE countries to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti, helping to identify challenges, good practices and lessons learned that will help move towards more inclusive societies across the OSCE region.

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