Early today, we released the report on our latest Roma Network Meeting. The meeting took place from 18-20 September in Novi Sad, Serbia, and saw the participation of more than 50 representatives from Eurodiaconia members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and HEKS – Swiss Church Aid.

During the meeting, the participants discussed Roma participation and representation in civil society, as well as in political decision-making processes. The meeting was based on the observation that Roma people have adapted to changing circumstances, patterns of discrimination and marginalization over decades. Moreover, policy efforts have often pictured Roma as a homogenous group and failed to acknowledge the desires of Roma people.

The event stressed the need to change approaches and institutions by involving Roma people, as expressed in the “with Roma and for Roma” paradigm. In practice, this can be achieved by working on cross-cutting issues, where outcomes tend to mutually reinforce themselves and contribute to empowerment and trust-building, especially for the most marginalised groups. National and EU level approaches should support these participatory bottom-up strategies through capacity building and financial support. Finally, the event has shown that participation cannot be isolated from exploring practical ways to tackle the manifold aspects of discrimination against Roma people.

To know more about our Roma Network Meeting, please have a look at the meeting report.