With the kind support of the Finnish Government, and together with the Turkish Government, the Council of Europe organised on 19 March 2014 a brainstorming meeting with Roma women in Istanbul to discuss the possibility of joint efforts to organise the 5th International Conference on Roma Women in 2015. The aim of the 2015 International Conference was to take stock of various initiatives benefitting Roma women and build on follow-up activities and action by Roma women and the Council of Europe. It also aimed to raise awareness on the priorities of Roma women in Turkey and create the space for joint action and policy development on Roma women at national level. This brainstorming meeting was a follow-up to the 4th International Conference on Roma Women held in Helsinki in September 2013.

The brainstorming meeting revealed issues of discrimination against Roma women and girls in the areas of education, employment, health care and access in public spaces in the context of identifying possible interest areas for the agenda of the 5th International Roma Women’s Conference.

In response to the civil society’s proposal to have Turkey host the 5th international conference of Roma women in 2015 in Istanbul, the Turkish representatives indicated that they would discuss the proposal with other ministries and provide an official answer in the coming months. In this context, the Council of Europe has reconfirmed its support in facilitating the preparation of the conference through both technical and financial support.

As additional follow-up to the brainstorming meeting, the representative of the Ministry of Health proposed a number of joint local workshops at regional level with local authorities and Roma women to discuss policies on Roma, women and children.

Likewise, the Roma women attending the brainstorming meeting indicated an interest in a number of project initiatives involving case studies on the situation of Roma children in education and workshops for Roma women to be able to engage more actively with the local authorities.