It is time to improve the lives of older Roma

For many Roma, 8 April is a day to celebrate Roma cultures, histories and identities. Since 2012 is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, ERIO and AGE believe that this year the International Roma Day is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges and obstacles that older Roma face daily across the EU.

At the European Parliament Hearing, “Unblocking the Anti-Discrimination Directive”, organised by the LIBE group on 22 March 2012, the intersection of age with other grounds of discrimination such as Roma was highlighted by both the European Commission and EQUINET. Older Roma are one of the groups most heavily subject to multiple discrimination since they face even more discrimination than other Roma age groups or older people generally in accessing basic essential services, social security provisions and employment. As such, they have even greater difficulty than most Roma and older people in realising their fundamental rights as EU citizens.

Ivan Ivanov, ERIO Executive Director, noted: “Roma are the most disadvantaged group in society but this applies even more so to older Roma people. No plan or policy in education, employment and other areas aiming at improving the situation of Roma includes older Roma. Among other issues, it is important to ensure they have decent healthcare and access to social insurance which is something they mostly need. In this sense when policy makers talk about comprehensive policies they should also take into consideration older Roma”.

The situation of older Roma in many Member States is worsening when it comes to human rights protection and social inclusion. Yet most National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) fail to incorporate the needs of older Roma or to address the high levels of discrimination they face. AGE and ERIO therefore call on the European Commission to ensure that NRIS are revised and include sufficient measures to address the problems facing older Roma. We also call on Member States to mainstream Roma issues into policies concerning older people and the needs of older Roma in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the NRIS.

Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, added that “the struggles that older Roma face should not be ignored in today’s difficult social climate. Protecting everyone’s fundamental rights – regardless of ethnicity, race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation or religion – is a duty that the EU shares with its Member States.”

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