Action plan against Roma discrimination launched
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
DHA photoAn action plan to prevent discrimination against Turkey’s Roma citizens came into effect after being published in the Official Gazette on April 30. The plan consists of measures in education, employment, housing, healthcare and social services in order to improve the living conditions of Roma people.
“The Strategy Document for Roma Citizens” and the “First Phase Action Plan” were published in the Official Gazette as part of efforts by the Family and Social Policies Ministry to eliminate the problems experienced by Roma citizens, who reside in the most disadvantaged and impoverished neighborhoods of their respective hometowns.
The action plan outlined a struggle to be carried out on five major fronts: Education, employment, housing, healthcare and social services. A monitoring and evaluation committee was also set to be formed in order to supervise progress in each of the aforementioned areas.
Education stands out as a major concern to ensure equality, as the ministry noted the role of discrimination and economic difficulties in inhibiting the attendance of Roma children in school.
“In conclusion, some Roma children are unable to continue their education because their families are unable to meet the costs of education or because they need to work to provide financial support to their families, while other children who continue their schooling fall out because they face social exclusion,” the document said.
In order to counter these problems, the ministry will identify children who dropped out of school and reach out to their families to inform them on the importance of education. Make-up classes will also be scheduled in predominantly Roma neighborhoods to enable Roma children to catch up with their peers.
The plan also stressed inequalities faced by Roma citizens in the workforce, as “a majority of Roma citizens work in precarious, low-skill and low-status jobs” because most have low education levels and low access to vocational education.
In an attempt to increase skilled Roma workers, the plan foresees vocational training which will be provided after collaborative work between employers and civil society organizations.
Entrepreneurship will also be encouraged and microcredits will be issued, while child labor will be discouraged and necessary measures will be taken to prevent it.
Housing also stood out as a significant category, as Roma people traditionally have a “unique form of shelter.” Most, however, reside in physically inadequate structures or in shanties.
According to the plan, the authorities will work to create housing that is suitable for the demands and social lives of Roma citizens.
Moreover, houses which can be improved through simple measures will be identified and necessary funds will be spared for their betterment.
In its plan, the ministry noted the health literacy of Roma citizens was overall low and most were not informed about the healthcare services that are freely available. The ministry will target increasing the awareness of such citizens while also increasing access to healthcare through mobile health teams.
Finally, the plan aims to increase Roma citizens’ access to social services, which is currently problematic due to their widespread employment in the informal industries and inability to pay insurance charges. Accordingly, consulting services will be organized to help Roma people get access to social services.
Progress in all these fields will be evaluated by the monitoring committee, which will be made up officials from related ministries and public institutions in addition to other stakeholders including civil society organizations, academics and trade bodies. The committee will meet annually in February and will have an ad-hoc meeting on the second half of the year upon a call from the Family Ministry to evaluate progress.