Discrimination

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Praxis Conducted Research on Access to Socio-economic Rights for Roma Women in Serbia

Praxis has conducted research aimed at providing information on access to socio-economic rights for Roma women, and the position of women compared to men in the Roma community. The research has been prepared as part of the project entitled Legal Aid and Advocacy – Access to Rights and Combating Discrimination against the Roma, implemented by Praxis, in cooperation with the Civil Rights Defenders and with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The research was conducted I the period from February to August 2015. A total of 100 Roma women and 100 Roma men were interviewed in ten municipalities in southern Serbia: Aleksinac, Prokuplje, Bojnik, Bor, Kuršumlija, Lebane, Leskovac, Bela Palanka, Kruševac and Knjaževac.

The average age of male and female respondents was 37 years, and 78% of them were either married or lived in a common-law marriage. The average age for concluding the first marriage or entering a common-law marriage varies significantly between women and men. The surveyed Roma women experience their first marriage or common-law marriage as early as at the age of 14.7 years on average, but it should be noted that the youngest female respondents who entered the marriage or common-law marriage were 13 years old and such was the case in four of ten municipalities.

The research results show that 79% of Roma women possess health booklets, only 40% exercise the right to social protection, 35% earn income by doing seasonal jobs, while only 30% of interviewed Roma women finished primary school. As for living conditions, 92% of interviewed Roma women confirmed that they lived in dilapidated facilities made of brick, while 45% live in the facilities that are not connected to the sewage network.

The responses to the survey are under the influence of patriarchal attitudes of both male and female respondents, especially when it comes to the role of women in the family.

“Education is more important for men, because they need to earn, and for women it is not, since they are not supposed to work, but to be at home with the children and do housework.” (M, YOB 1986, Bor)

In addition, it turned out that female respondents usually were not able to recognise discrimination, even when it was direct, and especially when it was a covert form of discrimination. In cases where it was recognised, the women lacked knowledge about the mechanisms of protection.


“When I address the social welfare centre, I always get the answer that I am not eligible for assistance and they tell me that they are very busy and don’t have time to explain to me why I don’t have the right to assistance. This is a typical situation that I have faced for years before I was able to exercise the right to financial social assistance. Never before have I received a one-off financial assistance although I requested it repeatedly.” (F, YOB 1956, Aleksinac)

The research results show that state institutions and local self-government could undertake further measures to enhance access to socio-economic rights for women in Roma communities, including the elimination of gender differences and emancipation from traditional roles and stereotypes, which would systematically improve their position in society.

Download the report here.

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Praxis means action
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