EU Roma Week 2019: Roma demand to be included in the SDGs

Today marks the International Roma Day, and Roma around the world celebrate their movement by remembering the first international Roma Congress in London on 8 April 1971. Ahead of the important day, the third EU Roma Week – organized jointly by MEPs, the European Commission and civil society organisations – brought over 100 European activists to Brussels.

At this year´s event, policy-makers and civil society met for the first public debate on the Roma and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Co-host Cornelia Ernst MEP stated right in the beginning that “the global development agenda can and should be an important lever for fighting antigypspsyism and racism”, calling to mind that the EU Roma Framework “has failed because it did not include the Roma community”.

Reacting to the presentation of a report by ERGO Network on opportunities for Roma advocates, Henriett Dinók from Romaversitas highlighted the challenges for Roma organisations to keep track with new programmes and principles: “We here who have access to information on the SDGs, have to collect it, share it and use it to advocate! Then the SDG fora will provide us with a platform to shape the narrative and to raise our demands.”

Paul Divakar, Chairperson of the Asia Dalit Right Forum, pointed out that the SDGs must be designed in a way that they serve those who are excluded in their societies, across the globe. “If we are not named in the indicators, if there are no data, what do we do? That´s why need to fight for our rights together.”

On behalf of the European Commission, Katarina Ivanković Knežević (DG EMPL), stressed the potential of the SDGs to address questions across the inclusion and discrimination of Roma, and to link these questions better with discrimination based on gender and disability. Gesa Boeckermann (DG JUST) highlighted that not only are the SDGs an important roof for policies related to Roma but that in reverse, by achieving Roma inclusion, the EU could also make an important step in its commitment to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Watch a record of the discussion here:

Roma Included: Can the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals contribute to combatting antigypsyism? Co-hosted by Cornelia Ernst MEP and Soraya Post MEP, the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and Sozialfabrik on 20 March 2019