MINELRES: ERRC: UN Women's Discrimination Committee Reviews Macedonia

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Feb 1 21:25:22 2006


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org> 


Treaty Review Body Hears Testimony About the Situation of Romani Women
in Macedonia

New York, Skopje, Budapest, 23 January 2006.     
Today, on behalf of the Roma Centre of Skopje (RCS), the European Roma
Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Open Society Institute’s Roma Women’s
Initiative (RWI), Ms Azbija Memedova testified about the human rights
situation of Romani women in Macedonia before the United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (CEDAW) at its review of Macedonia’s compliance with the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women.

In advance of today’s session, the RCS, the ERRC and the RWI, with
technical and financial assistance from UNIFEM’s Bratislava office,
submitted jointly a parallel report to the CEDAW Committee highlighting
major human rights issues facing Romani women in Macedonia.

The report provided results of comprehensive research undertaken by the
partners during 2005, involving eleven Romani women researchers trained
and supervised by the partners, who documented human rights issues
facing Romani women in Macedonia. The research results indicate high
levels of rights deprivation and intersectional discrimination against
Romani women in Macedonia. Key points include:

· Education: The illiteracy and school abandonment rate in Macedonia is
extremely high among Romani women and girls. Of 237 Romani women
interviewed in the course of research, 144 had no or incomplete
elementary education; 63 had only elementary education, only 19 had
finished vocational or high school and 11 had varying levels of
education beyond elementary school. Main reasons cited for the low level
of education included systemic discrimination, poverty, language, and
the lack of positive role models. State institutions have not proposed
or implemented any specific programmes to improve the educational level
of Romani women and girls, particularly at the pre-, primary and high
school levels.

· Employment: Of 202 Romani women age 18-54 surveyed, 98 were
unemployed, 16 worked in state firms (the majority as cleaners), 69
worked on black market, and the remainder were self-employed or worked
in private firms. Only 3 of 7 women age 55-65 did not have any form of
pension.

· Health and health care: Racial discrimination and other failures of
the medical system to provide basic health care with dignity were
documented extensively during research. Despite the existence of a
comprehensive state-provided health system in Macedonia, numerous Romani
women had no form of health insurance and lived on a constant basis in
various states of exclusion from health care. The substandard living
conditions prevailing in a number of substandard Romani slums in
Macedonia have very significant detrimental impacts on the health of
Romani women.

· Violence: Very high levels of violence against women were reported. 
Approximately 70% of women interviewed reported being victims of
domestic violence. Of 34 cases reported to police, 20 women stated that
police subjected them to various forms of degrading treatment and
humiliating, racist comments. In only 5 of 34 reported cases did the
police intervene.

The parallel report also notes the general absence of reliable data
disaggregated by gender and ethnicity in Macedonia, as well as a lack of
effective policies to address the exclusion of Romani women from
Macedonian society.

The partners also include a number of recommendations in the parallel
report submitted in November. The full text of the report is available
online at: http://www.errc.org/db/01/97/m00000197.pdf.

Ms Memedova is Coordinator of the Roma Centre of Skopje, a Consultant of
the Open Society Institute’s Roma Women’s Initiative, and a Member of
the Board of Directors of the European Roma Rights Centre.

For further information on the initiative, please contact:
· Azbija Memedova (RCS): (389 70) 248 490, centar@mt.net.mk
· Tara Bedard (ERRC): (36 1) 413 2246, tara.bedard@errc.org
· Debra Schultz (OSI/RWI): (1 212) 548 0162, DSchultz@sorosny.org
· Nicoleta Bitu (OSI/RWI) (48 500) 806452, 
nicoleta@romawomensinitiatives.org
_____________________________

The Roma Centre of Skopje (RCS), based in Skopje, is a local
non-governmental organization working for the integration of the Romani
community in Macedonia through the empowerment of Romani activists and
Roma-led non-governmental initiatives. Through its activities for the
empowerment of young Romani women, the RCS promotes gender equality and
human rights of minorities.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public
interest law organisation engaging in a range of activities aimed at
combating anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma. The
approach of the ERRC involves, in particular, strategic litigation,
international advocacy, research and policy development, and training of
Romany activists. The ERRC is a cooperating member of the International
Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and has consultative status with
the Council of Europe, as well as with the Economic and Social Council
of the United Nations. Further information on the ERRC is available at:
http://www.errc.org.

Founded in 1999, the Roma Women's Initiative is a program of the Open
Society Institute. The RWI promotes the human rights of Romani women by
empowering Romani women activists in Central and Eastern Europe. Working
with OSI's Network Women's Program and Roma Participation Program, the
RWI supports policy trainings, internships for Roma women,andRoma
women's NGOs, raises awareness within the Roma rights and women's rights
movements, and promotes Romani  women's agendas at local, national, and
international
levels.

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