Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Roma Women and Rights

There has been a lot done in our nation to further women’s rights. Some of which has produced great benefits; others, not so much, and I’ll talk about the negatives in future posts. While not everything is perfect, I believe in embracing the positives and not throwing the baby out with the bath water, to use an old cliché. However, this post isn’t about the good of women’s rights in America. We have that already. I want to talk about women who don’t know they’re supposed to have rights and an organization that is benefitting them.

Roma, better known as Gypsies, are a minority group who primarily live in Central and Eastern Europe. In many countries, neither the men nor the women have much in the way of rights. Because their traditions and laws are so different from their host countries', they’ve been persecuted, enslaved, and ignored for centuries. Admittedly, some of it has been deserved while much of it hasn’t. Other than in America and England, one of the better countries for them to reside in is Hungary. Hungary recognizes them as citizens and has laws in place to educate and protect them. While their education system has some flaws, it’s a good start even though many Roma haven’t taken full advantage because of their traditions.

This is where the women come in. There is an organization in the beautiful city of Pécs called "Colorful Pearls" (Szines Gyöngyök). Its purpose is to empower Romani women, and they provide assistance with social, legal, and mental health issues. The president and founder, Anna Kelemen stated in this interview that the women tend to be more flexible than the men in bettering their standards of living and promoting cultural acceptance.

Naturally, there was some opposition, particularly at first, among the Roma men because they believed the hierarchy of their families would be in jeopardy. Anna had her work cut out for her in convincing the Roma community that her work in educating the women and empowering them to find jobs and to work for the betterment of themselves and their families was for the benefit of the women and not in opposition to the men. The family structure is not infringed upon; rather their statuses within the Hungarian community have improved.

What Anna Kelemen has done is not just for the improvement of Roma women, but she has also furthered the work in minority rights.

To find out more about "Colorful Pearls" or to contribute to this important cause, please visit their site (assuming you can read Hungarian).


  1. Wow, way to go Anna Kelemen! And I learned something new from this. The Roma culture is fascinating, and one I doubt I'll ever understand.

    Just stopping by, trying to visit the folks who commented on my story on MSFV's blog. Hi!

  2. Glad you stopped by and that you enjoyed reading about her work. The more I research the Roma, the more fascinated I am by them.