Another Public debate in the project "Roma Women Can Do It - II" funded by STGTF took place on 9th July 2006 in Shoumen.
The theme of the discussion was: "The participation of Roma women in public and political life - central and local authorities".
The event was attended by 37 participants representing Roma NGOs, the Shoumen municipality, the Labour Bureau, experts on ethnic and demographic issues with the regional and municipal administration, teachers from schools with Roma students, an assistant of the MP Mr. Dubov, a church priest, etc.The Public debate attracted a lot of media attention and interest.
The following media sent journalists to cover and report on the event: the local newspapers "Shoumen" and "Shoumenska Zaria"; the local radio stations "Shoumen", "Darik Radio", The National Radio - Horizont, "Forte Radio", and the TV channels "Shoumen" and "Variant 6".
For the first time the debate succeeded in achieving one of the major project goals: to make educated and successful Roma women visible to the public through the media.
"Shoumen" TV broadcasted a 30-minute live report with the participation of project coordinators Kalinka Slivkova, Liliana Kovacheva and Sashka Mundeva. In this interview, the coordinators informed the public about the project goals and spoke out to the Roma community about the important place and role of Roma women in the family and in public and political life. The report included a presentation of a young Roma woman who works for the Centre for homeless Roma children. She told the public about her motivation to study and develop her abilities and to devote her efforts to the problems of the Roma community.
The issues discussed in the Public debate concerned major problems of Roma women and girls, such as unemployment, the role of school and education, the role of the family and religion for overcoming public stereotypes and ethnic discrimination.
A group of women from the town of Novi Pazar presented their newly-established Roma women's association "Hayachi" which focuses its activity on solving the problems of women in the local Roma community.
Activists in Shoumen are currently working to establish a Public committee which will consist of 37 members, 20 of them women. Municipal expert committees, NGO representatives and individual members will discuss concrete problems of the Roma community and work to find solutions. The Public committee will try to schedule regular meetings with MPs form Shoumen and the Shoumen region with the aim of lobbying, cooperation and support.
Kalinka Slivkova - Project coordinator