14 January, 2022
Press release – Failure to recruit participants

A key problem in the implementation of the operation is the failure to recruit participants.

On the one hand, we are witnessing a boycott of the programme by male leaders in the Roma community, who are trying to prevent the implementation of the programme and who make cooperation with the contractor conditional on financial benefit and influence on the implementation of the programme, which we find unacceptable. Because we are not ready for this kind of cooperation, we often encounter situations where we find women who would like to join the programme, but shortly after talking to us, the male members of the Roma community simply do not allow these women to join the programme. According to the information we have, the partners, in-laws and other family members of the women in question receive calls from Roma bigwigs who convince them that it is pointless and useless for the women to join the programme. We have been involved in several discussions where these bigwigs have tried to present the programme in a bad light, and we have seen time and time again that this is the dissemination of false information; they call the programme the assimilation of Roma women, they do not know the course and the purpose of the programme, they talk about the fact that the activities of gaining practical experience for the labour market are about exploiting Roma women, but on the other hand they insist that this type of programme is useless for Roma women because they have enough skills, despite the fact that during the course of the SA programme we have noticed that this is not the case. Despite the fact that we always provide relevant information about the implementation and the effects of the programme in these discussions, we fall on deaf ears with those who try to boycott the programme. We certainly do not tolerate this kind of blackmail; especially as it is blackmail by members of the Roma community who, in the context of cooperation, would like to spread their own agenda, which is patriarchal and, in recent years, quite radical, which is not in line with the programme and the principles that we defend in our work.

On the other hand, the unresponsiveness of the CSD in including women participants in the programme is also a problem. Despite countless discussions in team meetings and initiatives on more effective methods of motivating potential participants and involving them in the programme, as the current method is completely ineffective, no changes have been made. We often hear the excuse that there are no suitable Romani women in Maribor, which is hard to believe given the size of the Romani population in the area; especially after we recruited most of the participants independently during the second and third implementations of the programme (all of them were DSP recipients and therefore also on the CSD’s records). We have also noticed the CSD’s laxity in inviting participants who have already attended the programme. We understand that the CSD perceives the inclusion of Roma women in the programme as additional, unnecessary work, and we have been told several times that they are overloaded with work, but we definitely think that all stakeholders involved should have the same goal; i.e. improving the employment opportunities of women from the Roma community, which will not happen on its own. We are also disappointed with the low motivation of CSDs to cooperate and find possible solutions; we have initiated several joint meetings in 2021, but there has been no positive response from CSDs. Two colleagues from the Association EPEKA, Soc. Ent., members of the Roma community, also contacted the Roma coordinator at the CSD with a view to organising a joint meeting related to cooperation with the Roma community, but the response was that the CSD is working very hard to prepare the recruitments, and that we should contact the CSA for further information.

Another difficulty in involving Roma women in the programmes is the fact that many of them have volunteering contracts and consequently are not motivated to join a programme that requires them to be more involved and similarly financially benefit from it.

This is a problem that goes beyond the capacity of the NGO sector and should absolutely be addressed at systemic level. If the programmes targeting Roma women are to be resumed after the end of co-financing of SA programmes under this JR, the problems limiting the implementation of the programme or the accessibility of the programme among the target groups should definitely be addressed in a systemic way beforehand.