Social integration of the Roma population in Belarus

 

Social integration of the Roma population in Belarus: providing the right for equality

(September–November 2014)
The project is a socio-expert initiative with participation of public associations ‘Belarusian Roma diaspora’, ‘Ašmyany Roma diaspora’, academic expert communities, and the Republican Centre for National Cultures.

The basis for empiric and analytic materials of the project are the materials of focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, round-table discussions, which took place in 8 localities of the republic – Minsk, Hrodna, Ašmyany, Homel, Žodzina, Sluck, Baranavičy, Babruisk – and involved Roma leaders and activists, and the representatives of local administration as respondents.

The aim of the project is to create a mechanism for social integration of the Roma population in the whole Belarus and in Hrodna region in particular, in the format of recommendations for the all-republican programme of social integration of Roma-population. The programme of social integration of the Roma population in Belarus is aimed at creating equal possibilities for the Roma population to participate in social life of the republic, developing the feeling of both civil and cultural-ethnic adherence. The scope of this programme is education, job placement, social maintenance, and culture.

 

Recommendations on the development of the programme for social integration of the Roma in Belarus

 

The project results in recommendations on the development of the programme for social integration of the Roma in Belarus.

Social integrations of the Roma population can be achieved through simultaneous realisation of systematic measures in the spheres of education, social maintenance, job placement, cultural activity. Central element of the programme for social integration is the system of mediation between Roma communities and state bodies. The functions of the mediators, with corresponding education, are planned to be placed upon the leaders of Roma communities or the persons authorised by the community. Mediator’s main obligations are identifying specialised needs of the Roma population in social services (health care, availability of social infrastructure), job placement, and other spheres, and informing specialised bodies of local management, as well as informing the Roma population about the norms of law of the republic, of state policy in various spheres, etc.

The system of mediation in spheres of social maintenance, job placement, legalisation, etc. may be created only in partnership with the Roma organisations. Its specific features may be:

  1. a) Maximum closeness to the local Roma settlements;
  2. b) Participation of the leader of Roma organisation (of the authorised person) in the events organised by the local authorities, including field oriented, which are connected with life-sustaining activity of the Roma population;
  3. c) Participation of the Roma leader or activists in the work of the inter-ethnic (public, consultative) councils working at the authority bodies, especially regional;
  4. d) Interaction and coordination of the mediators with partner NGO of service profile;
  5. e) Coordination of the system of Roma mediators with state system of social order.

 

Education

  1. Measures on elimination of illiteracy among adult Roma population through activation of the programmes of external studies, as well as creating special evening schools (weekend schools) which, besides school knowledge, would provide socially useful and practice oriented knowledge and skills (law, elementary medical, financial, knowledge on housing policy, social maintenance, etc.).
  2. In order to elevate motivation to study among children and youth, scholarship programmes for individual and collective encouraging should be introduced.
  3. Roma leaders and activists should control attendance of educational establishments and studying results.
  4. Realisation of principle ‘Education throughout the whole life’ in frames of which in the next five years in Belarus it is planned to create a flexible system of preparation, additional and further training employees in accordance with the needs of innovative development of the country.

 

Job placement

  1. In frames of the mediation system consultation centres on job placement should be created to collect information about various variants of official employment (vacancies) and about labour needs and professional qualification of the Roma communities’ representatives.
  2. Construct a programme for further training for the workers of employment centres dedicated to the peculiarities of labour needs of the Roma population.
  3. Introduce topics dedicated to International law standards in maintaining the rights of minorities, securing rights and no discrimination in social and labour spheres, into the programmes for further training managing workers of various levels.

 

Culture

Keeping cultural originality is one of the main factors for the development of national minorities. The most important elements of cultural originality of the Roma population are language, history, some traditional activities (traditional magic), art (songs and dances), etc. in order to maintain cultural originality of the Roma population, it is recommended:

  1. a) To take measures for keeping and possibly widening the spheres of public use of the Roma language as a language of national minority despite the lack of its written version;
  2. b) To encourage representation of the Roma as leaders of artistic and other collectives;
  3. c) To include materials on history and culture of the Roma population into handbooks with special attention to the period of World War II and Holocaust.

 

Mass media

  1. Encourage mass media to cover positive sides of the Roma’ life allowing no creation of stereotype understanding and provocations of enmity in inter-ethnic relations.
  2. Include topics dedicated to discrimination and the language of enmity, as well as the ways of delivering information items free of Roma-phobia, into the programmes for further training journalists.

 

Using practical recommendations of this programme would allow: Roma population to feel more confident and protected, get an impulse for further effective social development; society as a whole to understand the richness of cultural variety of the peoples of Belarus, educate real skills of tolerant behaviour; Belarusian state to share a valuable experience of maintaining inter-ethnic diversity with the European countries, demonstrate the ability to solve social problems of the vulnerable population groups, readiness to partnership with the non-governmental sector, and thus strengthen its international image of socially oriented and socially responsible democratic state.

 

See more: Social integration of the Roma population in Belarus

 

Social integration of the Roma population in Belarus. Booklet

 

Social integration of the Roma population in Belarus. Brochure