The situation of Roma women calls for immediate and concrete actions

“Regardless of the fact that Roma women – approximately 6-8 million people - are Europe's most vulnerable group the gender aspect was either missing or addressed in an incidental and inconsistent way in the national Roma strategies. Via a set of policies indicated in my report, this situation has to be remedied,” pointed out Lívia Járóka following the adoption of the report on the gender aspects of the European Framework of National Roma Inclusion Strategies. The document analyses the lessons of the Framework's initial phase and formulates specific recommendations to improve the situation of Roma women.

“Roma women are the most vulnerable group in the EU, as they face multiple discrimination and their situation is even worse than that of Roma men, for example considering their exceeding risk of poverty, labour-market inactivity and lower educational level. Moreover, the lingering economic crisis has further deteriorated these figures – especially in terms of their health – and the risk of Roma women's victimisation has also increased” highlighted the Vice-Chairwoman of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, Lívia Járóka.

Járóka’s report reminds that contrary to the founding documents of the EU Framework, gender equality is either not an explicit objective of the National Roma Inclusion Strategies or is addressed in an incidental and inconsistent way. The Rapporteur therefore made several recommendations, such as to conduct gender impact assessments and to explicitly target Roma women, assess and consider their specific needs during further implementation.

“To tackle the exceeding risk of poverty for large families with four or more children, the document proposes flexible working hours, tax reliefs, adequate welfare arrangements and the extension of childcare facilities. Additionally, the report recommends the introduction of a child poverty reduction target in national strategies, and proposes the reintroduction of the Barcelona Targets, namely to make childcare facilities available for 90% of children between the age of 3 and 6, and for 33% of children younger than 3. The document further recommends specific programmes targeting teenage mothers and early school leaver girls, in specific by supporting the continuation of interrupted education, subsidizing their taking a job, providing work-based training and preventing the dismissal of pregnant employees” – said Lívia Járóka, the only MEP of Roma origin in the European Parliament.

The report also points out several flaws that had been revealed by the initial phase of implementation, due to the opaque governance structure, inadequate financing and unclear objectives. For example, the document expresses concerns regarding the inclination of Member States and the European Commission to 'outsource' related measures to NGOs and international organizations – that act on behalf of Roma, but without practically any Roma involvement – because it risked giving up policy control and allocated responsibilities to organisations that have no legal responsibility for social inclusion.

The report therefore calls on Member States to allocate proper financial assets to fulfil their policy commitments and calls on the European Commission to clearly specify the division of tasks and responsibilities among stakeholders. “It is necessary to introduce outcome indicators, baselines and numerical headline targets to national strategies, also for the purpose of effective monitoring” highlighted the Hungarian MEP (Fidesz).