Grassroots Advocacy Academy – Support Roma Activists

Stichting ERGO Network Organization from Belgium has organized Grassroot Advocacy Academy in Slovakia, Czech republic and Poland with the cooperation of their project partners Slovo 21 from Prague, Roma Advocacy and Research Centre from Skalica and Autonomia Foundation from Budapest.

Roma civil society is weak, with little power to influence decisions that can improve the living conditions of the Roma population. Local, regional and national authorities often show reluctance to work with Roma rights advocates. As a network of organizations experienced in advocacy and capacity-building, the project consortium evaluated this situation, discussed ideas on how to better overcome these challenges and implemented them in three national Roma Grassroots Advocacy Academies. Those were subsequently evaluated  to design a long-term capacity-building program. As a result, effective participation of the Roma population in the democratic system was achieved.

The three national Grassroots Advocacy Academies each directly built advocacy and community organizing competencies of the participants through theoretical input, practical training and sharing of knowledge and experiences between the participants. The knowledge gained during the practical trainings are already helping the participants to become more effective in their work on local and/or national level. At the same time, they developed a better conceptual understanding of the phenomenon of anti-gypsy-ism. Through normalization of a racist discourse and internalized racism of Roma themselves, even Roma activists are often not aware of how widespread anti-gypsy-ism is and how it is the underlying factor of the social exclusion of Roma. Now they are.