International Expert Seminar: Inclusion of Roma youth through education, employment and political participation
The activities of the Congress in the field of inclusion of Roma youth were presented at an International Expert Seminar held in Brijuni, Croatia, on 26 September 2018. Speaking during the debate on "Policy initiatives at local, national and international levels to sustain Roma employability and labour market insertion", Tobias MAYR, a member of the Congress Secretariat, described the Congress’s initiatives to support the education, employment and political participation of Roma youth.
One of the Congress’s flagship projects is the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion, launched in 2013, which aims to establish national networks among mayors. The networks are genuine discussion platforms where mayors can meet and exchange their points of view and good practice models. In 2017 the Congress contributed to the establishment of a national network in Ukraine and the reinforcement of the Greek network. On 11 October 2018 the Alliance will hold a meeting in Tirana with Albanian mayors with a view to setting up an Albanian network for Roma inclusion.
Every two years the Congress awards the Dosta! Congress Prize to three municipalities from Council of Europe member states that have put in place innovative and creative initiatives to efficiently integrate Roma in the long term within their borders.
12 new projects in Ukraine
The Ukrainian network is a good example of this initiative's effectiveness: 10 cities and regions participating in the network have already launched 12 projects meeting the needs of local Roma communities. Four of these projects focus on education and employment. In the regions of Transcarpathia and Odessa, projects aiming to enhance preschool education of Roma children are being developed in order to provide support from the very beginning and prevent early school leaving.
The Congress relies on local and regional elected representatives, as they are closest to citizens, whether Roma or non-Roma. This key position enables them to be better aware of people's needs and to implement national and international strategies efficiently. In addition, local and regional elected representatives, in particular mayors, can take tangible action to combat anti-Gypsyism and break the entire vicious circle. Municipalities and regions can, for example, launch or finance programmes to support Roma children in school, provide scholarships for Roma students or internships within the municipal administration, or propose vocational training, in particular to young adults and women.
In 2017, the Congress issued a Declaration against anti-Gypsyism, which gives mayors and regional representatives the possibility of taking a stance against the discrimination of Roma. To date it has been signed by 103 local and regional elected representatives.