Our former Legal Officer, Denisa Psenickova, writes about the Roma Youth Conference in Budapest.
Roma discrimination remains a challenge throughout Europe; the recent riots of far right activist in Germany, the forced evictions of Roma in France, laws supporting a segregated schools system in Hungary; continuity of segregated schools in Czech Republic and Slovakia, and many countries ignoring judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, are all symptoms of rising racism throughout Europe.
In order to discuss these issues and brainstorm proposals to address them, more than 100 young Roma and non Roma young people from 30 countries participated in the second Roma Youth Conference. The conference took place from 18th to 22nd October 2015 at the European Youth Centre Budapest, held by the Council of Europe. The purpose of the conference was to discuss Roma youth issues.
The aim of the conference was to look into the future of Roma youth and to propose a Roma Youth Action Plan (RYAP) for the Youth Department of the Council of Europe. The conference also built upon and evaluated the outcomes of the previous Roma Youth Action Plan (RYAP) which was organised in Strasbourg.
The participants had the opportunity to ask questions from organisations such as the Open Society Foundations, the Roma Education Fund, the OSCE - ODIHR, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the European Commission.
During the conference the participants drafted a declaration to the Council of Europe – Youth department and to the Special representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues.
The declaration expressed concerns about the neglect of policy makers when it comes to Roma youth inclusion. There are Roma youth that are suffering from multiple discrimination; this concerns LGBTQIA Roma, Roma girls, Roma migrants and Roma with disabilities.
There is also lack of knowledge on behalf of the majority in many countries about Roma. Roma history and culture, discrimination faced by Roma and the genocide of the Roma needs to be identified and acknowledged. The participants advocated for the inclusion of these topics into educational curriculum and the recognition of the importance of advocacy work in this field in order to achieve societal change.
Social and economic exclusion is the biggest challenge for Roma youth. The Roma youth strives for economic empowerment and participation which will strengthen the path of social inclusion and active citizenship of young Roma. It is vital to involve Roma Youth into Member States’ National Roma Integration Strategies and other relevant national policies.
Over all, as a participant; I was pleased to see so many Roma youth being keen to help their communities and calling for changes. However the important message of all is that the work and the changes we are calling for must be done. We as the Roma youth should work toward the changes and not wait for governments to do so.
The Second Annual Roma Youth Conference was organised by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe with kind contribution from the Phiren Amenca International Network, ternYpe Roma Youth Network, FERYP - Forum of European Roma Young People, European Youth Forum, Advisory Council on Youth and the representatives of the ROMED/ROMACT Program.
To keep up to date with all our work follow us on Twitter @AIRECentre