Thought to have originated from India, Roma people have migrated across the world over hundreds of years occupying nearly every continent with no specific ‘homeland’. Highly concentrated in Europe, the New York Times estimates that there are around 2.75 million Roma people in Turkey alone.
After centuries of persecution, the Roma population in Turkey face a number of inter-related social issues, often experiencing prejudice and discrimination which prevents them fully integrating into Turkish society. They are challenged with a vicious circle of social exclusion and poverty which in turn brings with it numerous problems including health issues and high levels of crime.
One of the chief problems faced by Roma groups is the inability to access secure, regular employment and, as a result, many can only gain temporary work. Lack of education and job skills coupled with the decline of traditional occupations compounds the discrimination already faced when looking for work. Stereotyped by some in Turkish society, rejection has been all too common for Roma people when trying to access things that other communities take for granted.
Tackling Social Exclusion
To tackle the problems that this community faces, and to reduce their social exclusion and improve integration, EU countries have been under increasing pressure to develop comprehensive action plans. In Turkey this challenge is being led by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies who have, in turn, enlisted the support of a number of experts to help them.
Leading a consortium, which includes Project Group, Archidata srl, Archidata International, A.N.F.E. Delegazione Regionale Sicilia and the National Agency for Roma, our experts at WYG are providing a two year technical assistance programme for The Ministries of Family and Social Policies, National Education, and Health. The aim is to increase social inclusion of the Roma population principally by facilitating their entry into the formal labour market.
At the programme’s inaugural meeting in November 2015, all the consortium members expressed their commitment to implementing the project to enable sustainable improvements for Roma citizens in Turkey. Our strategy to achieve this includes promoting social inclusion in densely Roma populated areas by:
• improving the quality of training and education delivery along with vocational education
• enhancing health, employment, social protection and social assistances services
• increasing coordination amongst different public providers
• increasing access to and demand for public services
• increasing social harmony/cohesion by enhancing the knowledge and awareness for social inclusion of the target groups
• improving employability.
This programme will not only bring benefits for Roma population but also greater economic opportunities for Turkey as groups share their skills and knowledge with each other and create richly diverse communities. As the first project of its kind in Turkey to be targeting Roma communities the programme will initially be implemented in 12 pilot provinces.