In a statement ahead of the International Roma Day marked on 8 April, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland urges European political parties to sign a pledge to improve the political representation of Roma and Traveller women.
"Over 12 million Roma and Travellers live in Council of Europe member States and yet their political activity - both in terms of participation and representation - is nearly invisible. When it comes to Roma and Traveller women, the percentage of women in elected positions at all levels of government is close to zero. This must change," he said.
"Political parties are key: they can and they should take measures to encourage Roma and Traveller women to enter the world of politics. They can and they should address gender bias and change their party structures to remove barriers."
"So when Europe turns the spotlight onto it largest ethnic minority, I urge political parties to take the first step and join the 13 parties and groups that have already signed our Pledge on political representation of Roma and Traveller women”, launched last November. This would be a clear commitment to a fully functioning democracy through equitable political participation. Contact our Roma and Travellers Team today and make a move that could bring immediate change!"
The 2010 Strasbourg Declaration on Roma recommends promoting effective participation of Roma in social, political and civic life, while one objective of the newly-adopted Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023 is to achieve a balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making and to empower women candidates.
We in the Council of Europe are committed to these goals, and we will organise several events this year to highlight this, for instance, the 5th meeting of our Dialogue with Roma and Traveller civil society in June and the 2018 World Forum for Democracy in November. A report on Promoting diversity and equality in politics is currently under preparation in the Parliamentary Assembly.”
“Roma and Traveller women remain at the margin of society and continue to face multiple discrimination. Structural and institutional barriers prevent them from accessing quality education, employment and political representation. It is high time they can find their rightful place in decision-making.”