This publication is predominantly the result of the enthusiasm, dedication and purposeful work of the young people from the projects and organisations represented here.
This includes professional workers, volunteers and young Roma and non-Roma participants.
The aim of this publication is to provide examples of Roma youth participation that exist and thrive in different projects and organisations across Europe; in doing so, the publication will challenge existing and widespread prejudice related to Roma youth participation. These examples can be an inspiration to any project or organisation which seeks to consciously and critically promote participatory practice, particularly the organisations run by young Roma and for the benefit of Roma communities. It shows that Roma youth participation works and brings results, but at the same time the conditions for it to develop are often fragile, as the realities of structural discrimination or social exclusion are major obstacles. The publication also serves as a tool for youth policy makers. It is a message that states that Roma youth participation is real, it is happening and it needs further support in a climate where the human rights of Roma communities are often violated. These success stories can act as a catalyst for youth policy makers to create the space and support for new initiatives; in turn, these initiatives can develop further policies to support Roma young people’s creativity and willingness to take an active stand in order to promote their identity as young people, as Roma and as citizens.
The importance of efforts to develop Roma youth participation are a result of the failure to motivate and encourage the participation of young Roma. Today, with the rise of political extremism, coupled with economic migration in the wake of austerity, the emphasis on Roma youth participation has become more relevant and perhaps more urgent than at any other time. The examples of good practice included in this publication are part of a process in the effort to develop real participation of Roma young people in communities and societies in all parts of Europe.
The stories of participation included here were collected and compiled by three researchers. The projects and organisations included in this publication were identified through their ability to clearly demonstrate real participatory practice with young Roma. Each participating organisation involved was consulted at every stage of the research and during the editing process.
The development of the publication is also based on:
- The Roma Youth Action Plan of the Youth Department of the Council of Europe and its approaches to Roma youth participation and inclusion
- The Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
- Recommendation 354 (2014) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe “Empowering Roma youth through participation: effective policy design at local and regional levels”
- The Have Your Say! manual on the revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, developed by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe.
The publication is divided into several chapters:
- Introduction – this provides an overview of the entire project around this publication, the process and the product
- Roma Youth Action Plan – this is a commentary on the Council of Europe Youth Department and the Roma Youth Action Plan
- Participation and Roma young people – this introduces the concept of participation and the relevance of Roma youth participation in particular
- Participation and this Publication – An explanation about the context of participation in the stories and examples
- Stories and Examples – This is a collection of 15 good practice examples of Roma youth participation.
Each of these examples is divided into 6 parts:
- The Organisation
- The Issue – specific to that community or group
- The Project – what the project did or does
- Participation – highlighting the practice of participation
- Outcomes – direct results of the participatory work
- Conclusion – A summary of the publication
This publication offers to anyone interested the chance to learn about how Roma young people participate and take an active role in their communities, with examples of how this is done. The publication presents these stories of participation and points out specific aspects of participation. We have included the contact details of the organisations involved, and invite the reader to contact them for further information.
A word about the style of the publication: this is a publication about young people, and, in the spirit of participation and access, we wanted to create a publication that also speaks to young people and inspires them. We have strived to keep its style and approach youth-friendly.
A Note on Terminology
The term ‘Roma’ is used throughout this publication to refer to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom). It should be understood to cover the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including people who identify themselves as Gypsies.
The term ‘Rom’ is also used to refer to a person of Roma origin.Both ‘Roma’ and ‘Romani’ are used as adjectives: a ‘Roma(ni) woman’, ‘Roma(ni) communities’