On 27th June 2020 (check against delivery)
Distinguished delegates and guests of the 11th International Romani Union Congress. Dear friends. It is my pleasure to address you today. Unfortunately, I could not participate in person but I am with you in spirit.
First of all, I hope you have had a fruitful week of deliberations and discussions of the situation and challenges as well as future of action for Roma community around the globe. Thank you for the important work you continue to do to promote human rights of Roma people and thank you also for your work as an active founding member of the European Roma and Travelers Forum.
This has been a different and challenging spring for many but especially those who continue to face structural discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic and its response measures have not treated us equally. For some of us, hand washing or social distancing can be unattainable luxury. Exceptional situations such as this pandemic can reinforce weaknesses of the society.
Discrimination and harassment of the Roma as well as hate speech and poor economic and social situation are still major problems in Europe and around the world. Now than ever before the situation calls for ambitious and inclusive action at local, national and global level. It also calls for better representation and participation of the Roma women and men and youth.
One of the key points I would wish to highlight today is importance of education and training, with particular emphasis on Roma women and girls. Education is not only a human right but it also increases the possibility of breaking deprivation and exclusion cycles. This means also investment on life-long education and training. It is also important to continue to train grassroots Roma and community actors and leaders on human rights issues, including raising awareness on human right and non-discrimination policies and actors. IRU can play a central role also in this.
I am encouraged by this congress and hear your voices loud and clear. Only together, we can make a difference.
I wish you a fruitful congress!