A seminar with this topic took place in the city Volzhskiy in the Volgograd region from 1 to 5 of June, 2005. To represent us our staff members Vera Beljavskaja and Antonia Syxovskaja participated therein.
The seminar was promoted by the chairman of the “Congress of Romani women” (“Dshjuvljakano romano kongresso”) Elena Konstantinova and her assistant Tatjana Lebedeva, the chairmen of the European Roma Rights Center (Budapest) Olga Demian, Olga Tshashixina, Larry Olomofe, Azam Bajburdi and consultant Niki Torod, who represented the Romani national-cultural autonomy in Jekaterinenburg. Furthermore participated representatives of different regions in Russia and former Soviet Union republics: Marianna Seslavinskaja (“Romane Prala”, Moscow), Galina Murzina (“Romano Kxer”, Moscow), Alexandra Pjatakova (from the social-political women’s organization “Trust, Hope, Love”, Rostov), Ksenja Sidtshenko and Marina Kalashnikova (from the civil organization “Romen Amala” in Rostov), Zola Kondur (Fund of Romani women “Tshiriklja”, Kiev), Shusha Dudutshava (“Romani Zbora, Odessa), Marina Grishkevitsh (“Romani Tshergen”, Belorussia), Natalja Sentshenko (“Devl sha, romale, Ukraine), Lilja Gengel and Tatjana Martshenko (journalists of the newspaper “Romani Duma”, Samara).
The seminar’s program offered several subjects. One of these was “The current situation of Romani women in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States”. A further topic was offered by Elena Konstantinova: “Help for imprisoned women and their life and work after prison”. Marianna Seslavinskaya reported about education of Romani women and Tatiana Marchenko from Samara spoke about the image of Romani women in the mass media. Marina Grishkevitsh reported about the situation of Romani women in Belorussia. Olga Chashikhina and Olga Lemian told us the story of their life and highlighted the role education played in it.
The attendees of the seminar discussed the presentations and exchanged their first hand experiences. Tatjana Markina reported about human rights and in particular about the legal protection of Romani women in the national legislation. During the breaks role-playing was offered, due to this the businesslike environment changed into a friendly atmosphere.
On of the most interesting reports – in my view – was the one of Alexandra Pjatakova, who told about the possibilities of establishing civil human rights organizations, their first steps and about the mechanism of human rights protection while taking into account the national tradition and mentality of our nation. Moreover recommendations for solutions of current problems and questions, which were put in the discussions, were offered. Interesting was furthermore the speech of the Ukrainian delegation, Zola Kondur reported about the progress of the Romani organization “Tshiriklja” and about the help its staff members offer to Romani women to solve concrete conflict situations.
Activists of different regional organizations posed their subject for discussion and reported about their experience of solving big problems. Furthermore the attendees discussed the necessity of cooperation with different organizations, first of all with those, which have rich combat experience in the fight for protecting the rights of Romani women.
Above all I want to say some words about Elena Konstantinova, who invited us to this seminar and was one of his main organizers. This unsophisticated and uneducated Romani woman wasn’t only able to create the “Congress of Romani women”, but also united other organizations and became the initiator of this interesting seminar. If only such meetings would be oftener, in order to activate more people to awareness and human rights work with our nation!
We need to achieve our aims, first of all – in the fight against the discrimination of our nation and against the illiteracy of the Romani population. We have to fight for a raised living standard of Romas. We have to arrive at the point, where every one knows and can defend his rights. From all the presentations I draw these consequences. Indeed, our nation has many complicated problems, which all call for immediate solution. That’s why every Romani should think about how to help himself and his people. Problems have to be solved and no one should close his eyes and resign oneself with the current circumstances. Times are changing. Our children are growing up, but the Romani nation is disappearing and with it our tradition and our culture.
In my view, the promoters of the seminar handled their task successfully. I once more want to thank Elena Konstantinova and all other organizers and sponsors for the invitation. The past seminar evoked an unforgettable impression not only onto me but onto all participants. I have learned many new and interesting things.