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8 April, International Roma Day: Statement by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland

With the number of elected Roma and Traveller women 'close to zero', the Secretary General urges political parties to fast-track Roma women in politics
headline Strasbourg 6 April 2018
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8 April, International Roma Day: Statement by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland

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.”

See also:
Marking the International Roma Day, celebrated on 8 April 2018, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities invites Mayors around Europe to sign a Declaration against Anti-Gypsyism

The term “Roma and Travellers” is used at the Council of Europe to encompass the wide diversity of the groups covered by the work of the Council of Europe in this field: on the one hand a) Roma, Sinti/Manush, Calé, Kaale, Romanichals, Boyash/Rudari; b) Balkan Egyptians (Egyptians and Ashkali); c) Eastern groups (Dom, Lom and Abdal); and, on the other hand, groups such as Travellers, Yenish, and the populations designated under the administrative term “Gens du voyage”, as well as persons who identify themselves as Gypsies.The present is an explanatory footnote, not a definition of Roma and/or Travellers.

Tools and texts of reference Tools and texts of reference
Roma women Roma women

Roma women are a quiet but strong force for change, both a change in the fate of their communities' lives, as well as in their condition as women facing multiple discrimination. Empowering Roma women through trainings and international Conferences is among the Council of Europe priorities

Anti-discrimination training Anti-discrimination training

For a number of years now, the Support Team has been organising various training sessions, including train-the-trainers sessions, on anti-discrimination and anti-gypsyism for legal professionals and law-enforcement officials. This has been done sometimes in co-operation with the HELP Unit or other units/departments of the Council of Europe. Such training included initial training and in-service training, and has been offered to lawyers, police officers and prison staff.

Background documents:


Contact : Isabela Mihalache

Roma and Travellers Team Roma and Travellers Team
Expert Seminar Expert Seminar
roma lgbti conference roma lgbti conference
Dialogue meeting with Roma and Traveller civil society Dialogue meeting with Roma and Traveller civil society
database of policies and good practices database of policies and good practices

Online European Database on Roma-related policies and good practices

DATABASE - website

Contacts: Malgorzata Rozycka

Romani History and Culture Romani History and Culture

Public knowledge about the history and culture of Roma is still marginal among ordinary people. National governments and international organisations are trying to overcome segregation, stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Roma and to integrate them into society. One of the keys for integration is education of both Roma and non-Roma. An integral part of this educational process is mutual knowledge about the common history and culture of Roma and non-Roma in Europe.

Archive Archive

The following websites contain a wealth of reference texts and materials, which will be gradually moved onto the new Roma website: 

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