Roma Women transforming the educational systems around Europe through their social and political Mobilization This Gathering was held Saturday, Nov 27th, 2021 (Sheffield Hallam University). The EU-funded RTransform project is about transferring the DKM’s Gatherings to 5 different countries. The UK is part of this network and the Sheffield-based organization Care for Young People’s Future is a key player tasked with organizing three Gatherings in the UK. Saturday, Nov 27th from 10.30-5.00 the first UK Roma Women’s Gathering took place. The event welcomed many role models from the community and also local grassroots Roma women and girls to talk about the importance of education, identity and culture.
The films are located on the CYFP YouTube Channel. You can watch the short trailer and the longer film online. Various talks will also be featured online later this year. Watch this space for more exciting items from our UK partners.
On Friday 14th of November, the Educational WorkshopMeetingthat was performed by Drom KotarMestipen and the educator Andrea Khalfaoui within the framework of the European Project RTransform.eu was successfully completed!
Staff members from the organizations from Spain, Hungary, Greece, the UK, Romania that attended the Educational Workshop, and participate in the overall project implementation, concluded the specifications for the upcoming 20 Workshops. The Workshops will be held in the next period until June 2023 by each partner organization.
The aim of these Workshops is to train adult educators, youth workers, youth organizations, and training centers and institutions, on issues relevant to successful practices in education for grassroots women and people, particularly Roma women, whereas the Workshops will pursue also to provide room for open discussions relevant to examples of Roma Women that have overcome barriers in education.
Furthermore, at the Educational Workshop, the participants had the opportunity to analyze other successful practices, examples, and role models included in the research that has already been implemented by the consortium.
Stay tuned for the progress of the project and our forthcoming actions and news! Follow the project’s social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
The online event entitled “Dialogue for Education: 1st Gathering of Greek Roma Women” was held through ZOOM, on November 20 between 16:00 and 20:00 from AID. The event was ended with smiles and success. A representative from the Municipality of Ampelokipi Menemeni, Mrs. Vatali Vasiliki has also joined the event. The aim of the event was the national gathering of Greek Roma Women in the framework of the Rtransform European Project. Roma women from all over Greece such as Thessaloniki, Serres, Corinth, Florina, Larissa, Crete, and other areas, connected and developed a concrete dialogue.
The women talked about their own history, they shared the obstacles and difficulties they faced in education, the reasons they left school early, as well as their desire to continue school. Some women also shared their motives who have found the courage and the strength to complete school education and continue into higher education by attending the university.
During the online event, Fenia Papakonstantinou explained the project, its goals, and activities, coordinated the event dialogue, and empowered Roma women to share their stories, while at the same time Rapti Ourania, a specialist in education for Roma women, referred to examples of women who continued their education.
At the second half of the event, the women were divided into groups and discussed in more detail the problems they faced in the school years, explaining the reasons why most of them left school early. Some of the reasons were the frequent mobility of their families across Greece due to seasonal jobs in different cities, the marriage obligation, starting a family from a very young age, the devotion to the family and the children’s upbringing. Moreover, the multiple obligations and symbolisms that frame the Roma Woman and her role within the Rome community. The women also discussed on taking measures that could help to overcome these difficulties and reverse obsolete habits and situations. The Gathering ended with all women emphasizing the importance of such actions and initiatives. They expressed their positive feelings towards the event as they had the opportunity to take part in the Gathering, to speak, share stories and thoughts, and have their voices heard. All the women are being committed and looking forward to the next Gathering which is expected to take place in February 2022.
Academic pathways, paths that lead to educational success
On 14 February 2002, the 1st Roma Women Student Gathering was held, organized by the Romani Association of Women Drom Kotar Mestipen, and since then this activity has been going on non-stop, even during the pandemic. On Saturday 23 October 2021, the 20th Roma Women Student Gathering of Catalonia was held at the Rovira I Virgili University in Tarragona.
Today, the event has much more importance and impact than we could have imagined when preparing the first Gathering when our objectives were to create a space for dialogue and to bring girls and women closer to positive role models. After 20 editions, we can say that it is the only event that mobilizes an average of 250 Roma women to talk about education on a Saturday afternoon and to put at the center of the debate the quality of the education that they and their children receive, to dismantle social and educational barriers, and to seek to overcome inequality due to the fact that they are Roma. We can also say that we have created a network of trust and support for girls and women who want to pursue educational success. As well as overcoming the misconceptions surrounding Roma women.
“Tell me what it takes to raise their level, but don’t take them out of class, because then they get to secondary school and they don’t have the level and that’s why they drop out.”
On Saturday we were able to talk about the possible itineraries in our current Educational System, its “traps” and its alternatives with Manuela Fernández, who is an example, for having overcome the barriers mentioned before, and also for her commitment to the Roma people, and especially to women.
At the role model table, Tatiana was able to explain to us how she is the first Roma girl to graduate from secondary school thanks to having studied at the Mediterrani Learning Community in Tarragona, encouraging other girls to overcome barriers by seeking support and help from people who work in organizations and other services.
Within the Working Groups, there was an intense debate to provide the elements to overcome educational inequality from which the Romani Association of Women will work during this year and which will be handed over to the different administrations so that they can take them into account.
On Saturday we were able to hear Roma girls and women who have studied or are studying Social Integration, Pedagogy, Medicine, Engineering, Nutrition, and Dietetics or the ESO Graduate course. All of them encouraged the other participants and were able to share how their families have been their main support, or a teacher, or an organization, but above all that being able to enjoy Successful Educational Activities and not just occurrences or entertainments is what has helped them to overcome the historical educational inequality they suffer.
Paulo Freire told us that education needs technical, scientific, and professional training as well as dreams and utopia. The volunteers and those of us who are part of the Romani Association of Women Drom Kotar Mestipen were able to feel again the rigour, strength, dreams, and illusion in Tarragona. And as Manuela Fernández said: how beautiful that it remains as beautiful as the first day without losing its validity and meaning.
This is the English translation of the article written by Montserrat Sánchez Aroca for the virtual journal “Diario Feminista”. To read the original in Spanish, please click on this link.