Winners of the 2021 EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey announced
Yesterday, the European Commission announced the 14 winners of the fourth EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey. This year’s award recognises Extraordinary People Promoting Equality through Employment. The winners include a window-cleaning business in Albania, the Montenegro Red Cross and the Municipality of Konak in western Turkey. The award ceremony took place in the framework of the 55th EU Roma Week (27 – 30 September 2021).
Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, said: “Congratulations to all the winners for your contribution to such an important issue! You took courageous initiatives overcoming prejudices to promote Roma employment. With your diverse actions and your successful results, you show that progress on Roma employment is possible. I hope this Award will help expand your initiatives as role models for increasing Roma employment and for making our societies more equal and fair.”
Launched in 2014, the EU Award for Roma integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey aims to highlight the importance of Roma integration in the EU Enlargement process and to show the EU's determination and commitment to improving the social inclusion of Roma people. With the Award, the EU recognises all efforts to empower Roma to reach their full potential as full members of the societies where they live and work. The prize will help fund future projects and opportunities benefitting Roma.
Of the estimated 10-12 million Roma living in Europe, about 1 million live in the Western Balkans and 2.8 million in Turkey. The full integration and inclusion of Roma people is a key priority for the EU and starts with employment. Roma integration is one of the conditions enlargement partners have to fulfil to become an EU Member State.
This year’s EU Award for Roma Integration is dedicated to Extraordinary People Promoting Equality through Employment. It recognises private and public initiatives that offer support, recognition and publicity to unemployment in the Roma communities, especially among women, and that support positive role models and practical help.
Of the 67 applications submitted, 14 projects representing the Western Balkan partners and Turkey, have been chosen for their outstanding contribution. The nominees often put themselves at risk by being role models and breaking established traditions. They, for instance:
- strengthen Roma people employability and women’s empowerment;
- offer career guidance and mentoring support for Roma people, providing professional vocational training and internships;
- increase informed Roma citizen participation in decision-making processes;
- improve access to social rights, quality employment, and public services such as education, healthcare, and housing;
- combat violence against women and child marriage, enabling Roma women to be independent;
- work with public and private sector actors and businesses to change their perspective of Roma people and to reduce illiteracy;
- help micro-businesses with no collateral, and therefore ineligible for business loans, to buy equipment
The commitment of these organisations and companies to combatting unemployment through funding, training, and practical support has improved the economic prospects of hundreds of Roma men, women, and young people but has also advanced Roma's integration into society at large. The EU Roma integration award aims to boost political commitment and support for Roma inclusion in Western Balkans and Turkey, focusing each year differently. The award is funded by the European Union and implemented by Roma Active Albania.
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