WARSAW, 8 March 2013 – Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, called today for greater efforts to ensure full access to educational opportunities for Roma and Sinti women in order to help them overcome multiple forms of discrimination, on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

“Roma women in many states across the OSCE area are victims of discrimination both on the basis of gender and as members of socially and economically marginalized communities,” Lenarčič said. “Education is key to opening up greater employment opportunities for Roma women and to empowering them to access their rights, as well as to allowing them to use their abilities to help improve the situation of Roma communities in general.”

The ODIHR Director noted that many Roma girls and women face barriers, both from within and outside their communities, to gaining quality education. While Roma and Sinti women often play an important part in initiating change within their social and economic environment, these barriers prevent many others from playing the same role.

He added that international and national actors must prioritize the empowerment and active involvement of Roma and Sinti women in policy development and implementation.

“Although Roma and Sinti women have become increasingly visible and active in addressing their needs, their concerns are often neglected by national policymakers,” Lenarčič said. “We need to move beyond the victimization of Roma and Sinti women and recognize them as full and equal partners.”

ODIHR also released today the video “The Cause is Ours”, which contains interviews with Roma women who have made significant contributions to policy development at the international and national levels. The video was produced by Romedia with the support of ODIHR.

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