European Parliament Women's Rights Report: Discrimination against Roma Women
Monday, September 24, 2007 3:12 PM

Roma women are among the most threatened groups and individuals in the Europe - particularly in the ten new Member States and accession and candidate countries, according to the Women's Rights Committee. In a report adopted on Tuesday, the committee calls for measures to combat the extreme levels of multiple discrimination faced by these women on the grounds of both ethnicity and gender.

The report, drafted by Lívia Járóka (EPP-ED, HU), urges EU public authorities to "promptly investigate extreme human rights abuses against Roma women, to swiftly punish perpetrators, and to provide adequate compensation to victims". The committee calls on Member States to give the highest priority to measures to provide better protection for women's reproductive and sexual health, to prevent and outlaw coercive sterilisation, and provide redress for such abuse, and to promote family planning, alternative arrangements to early marriages, and sex education. It also calls for proactive measures to eliminate racially segregated maternity wards, to help victims of domestic violence and for particular vigilance regarding the trafficking of Roma women.
A number of other areas of concern are raised in the report. It urges Member States to ensure that all Roma women have access to health care, and not only, as often occurs, in the case of an extreme emergency or childbirth. Surveys show that the life expectancy of Roma women is, in some areas, shorter than that of others. Many Roma girls fail to complete primary education. Lívia Járóka says that since education "is one of the most important tools for escaping poverty, the dual discrimination faced by Roma women in the field of education means that they will have a particularly difficult time escaping poverty". The committee calls for measures at national level to ensure that women and girls have access on equal terms to quality education and for plans to end the separate, substandard education of Roma children. A further burning issue, calling for positive measures, is the very high unemployment rates among Roma women - in several places, many times higher than that of the rest of the adult female population. MEPs also urge the Member States to improve Roma housing by recognising in national law a right to adequate housing.
The situation of Roma women in candidate countries should, according to the committee, be a key criterion for evaluation states of readiness for accession to the EU. MEPs recommend that the future EU Institute for Gender Equality should have a unit dealing with Roma women in the EU and encourage the gathering and publication of data set out by sex and ethnicity, on the situation of the Roma people, so progress can be measured. 
Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality
Chair : Anna ZÁBORSKÁ (EPP-ED, SK)
Procedure: Own-initiative
Plenary Debate: May II, Brussels
Published in:  "Roma Women in the EU," Women's UN Report Network (WUNRN), 25 April 2006.