Ending stigma and discrimination against Romani women and girls key to ensuring equality and women advancement in Moldova
On the International Day Against Racial Discrimination, the United Nations launched a report on the situation of Romani women and girls in the Republic of Moldova.
The report which is the result of nearly two years of research and consultations with a range of stakeholders, including extensive empirical documentation and interviews with Romani women themselves, reveals that Romani women represent one of the most excluded groups in Moldova. They experience lower levels of education, significantly higher rates of unemployment and poorer health than the population-at-large. Forty-five per cent of Roma women in Moldova have no formal studies (including primary education) compared to 2 per cent of non-Roma women and 33 percent Roma men, according to the report. Romani girls are particularly vulnerable to school abandonment and low educational attainment, due to the role many are required to play in their family and child marriages, the report indicates.
Access to health care and others services, as well as to the formal labour market, also remains problematic. Roma are twice as likely as non-Roma in the Republic of Moldova to lack health insurance. Anti-Romani sentiment is currently very high in the Republic of Moldova. A recent survey found that 49% of Moldovans would absolutely not accept a Romani person as a neighbour, while a further 16% said that they would “probably not” accept a Romani neighbour.
“I find the situation of Romani women and girls in Moldova very troubling. They face multiple facets of exclusion as a result of patriarchal forces and powerful discrimination in the wider society ”, said Isabela Mihalache, lead author of the report and international expert on Romani women’s rights issues. “I have been very heartened to see the start of Romani women’s mobilization in recent months. I believe this study can be the basis for turning a new page in the genuine inclusion of Romani women and girls”, she said.
In its 2013 review of the Republic of Moldova’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the CEDAW Committee expressed a range of concerns at the situation of Romani women and girls, including that Romani women are, in practice, almost completely excluded from political and public life. It also noted problems of discrimination and exclusion facing Romani women and girls in sectors such as education and employment and urged the Government to overcome the reluctance of the police to intervene in cases of domestic violence within the Romani community.
“This March has seen a series of actions aiming to strengthen the participation of women in public life. I am very encouraged by the new growth of Romani women’s civil society. The United Nations in the Republic of Moldova will continue to work together with its partners to support advances by all Moldovan women, especially the most excluded”, said Narine Sahakyan, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. in the Republic of Moldova.
The Government of Moldova is currently in the course of implementing Moldova’s second Action Plan on Roma inclusion (2011-2015). A decision establishing a network of Roma Community was taken in 2013. A total of 48 mediators (44 communities) are to be engaged from the State budget by the end of 2014. In 2012, the Government adopted Law 121 on Ensuring Equality, significantly elaborating the domestic law ban on discrimination in a range of areas of key concern to Roma.
The study leading to the report was commissioned by UN Women, in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
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