Community centers to support underprivileged Roma women

Photo: Mother center, Byala Slatina

More than 600 women from Roma communities in the town of Razgrad, the village of Vazovo (Municipality of Isperih) and the town of Byala Slatina aged 16 to 55 will receive support aimed at helping them improve their social and labor skills. This is the objective of the project „Social innovations for more effective social inclusion of underprivileged Roma women”.

The beneficiary of the project underway since the end of 2017 is Integro Association – Razgrad in partnership with Mother Centers: International Network for Empowerment MINE – Stuttgart, Germany. The project is part of the procedure Transnational and Danube Partnerships for Employment and Growth under the Human Resources Development Operational Programme 2014-2020 co-financed by the European Union via the European Social Fund. Financial assistance is to the tune of BGN 199,600 (100,000 euro) and is gratuitous. Activities are set to continue until the end of this year”, explains Kamen Makaveev fromIntegro Association.

Three community centers will be built where women of Roma origin who according to Mr Makaveev are discriminated more often, will be trained to acquire new social and labor skills. The center in Razgrad will host training courses in hairdressing and the other two centers will focus on cooking. For both types of training the needed equipment will be provided. Under the project the three centers will hire two employees on labor contracts.

To make things happen the right way the Razgrad-based NGO has been studying the experience of the International Network of Mother Centers for Empowerment in Germany.

“What is similar between us and the German organization is that we have the same goals and experience in working for the wellbeing and social inclusion of Roma women. As part of the project we explore practices of integration centers using methods of social integration of migrants in countries of West Europe”, project leader Kamen Makaveev goes on to say.

The project’s target group is made up of 200 women from the Razgrad, Vazovo and Byala Slatina. They have children, do not have systematic education, are unemployed or are in temporary jobs. The newly created community centers aimed at professional training will emphasize on informal ways of study and training.

The idea is to assist the social inclusion of Roma women who are at risk of exclusion from social processes. Our goal is to make them more active citizens. One of the reasons to opt for work with women is that more often than not they are responsible for raising children. A possible change in their views about their role in civil society is likely to influence their children too, who are likely to become more active citizens in the future.”

Community centers are expected to begin operation by the end of March. After completion of activities under the project centers should continue work as municipalities will be paying their running costs. This social innovation is expected to benefit local authorities as well as they map out adequate measures in the municipal plans for integration seeking solutions to the problems of Roma women”, said in conclusionKamen Makaveev.

According to the Strategy for the Region of Razgrad for Integration of Roma 2012 -2020 active population of Roma origin numbers 1392 persons, accounting for about 2.5% of the entire active population in the region. 81.8% of the members of Roma communities are either unemployed or economically inactive. The main reason for this picture is the widespread lack of adequate education and qualifications among Roma, as well as the large number of discouraged persons and of persons employed in the grey economy who are not active looking for jobs and do not maintain registration at the Employment Bureau. Most of the able-bodied Roma live abroad and foreign jobs are often their only option left to earn incomes and provide for their families.

English Daniela Konstantinova

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