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Voices of Roma women heard

TO MARK Slovakia’s presidency of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, The Slovak Spectator will publish a series of interviews with Roma women living in Slovakia. The interviews were conducted by Kristína Magdolenová and Jarmila Vaňová from the Roma Press Agency as part of their project which examines gender issues associated with the life of the Roma community.

TO MARK Slovakia’s presidency of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, The Slovak Spectator will publish a series of interviews with Roma women living in Slovakia. The interviews were conducted by Kristína Magdolenová and Jarmila Vaňová from the Roma Press Agency as part of their project which examines gender issues associated with the life of the Roma community.

The Decade of Roma Inclusion includes gender issues as one of its crucial focus points.
“In our interviews with Roma women we have aimed to show the functioning of the Roma community from within, especially the relationships and the position of women in the family and in the wider community,” Magdolenová told The Slovak Spectator.

The authors have chosen women for the interviews from two basic groups, Magdolenová explained. One group consists of women who have achieved something in their lives – they possess a certain social status and they are able to talk about their life stories, and about the obstacles they had to face and overcome. The other group are women from Roma settlements or ghettos, communities living on the edges of society, who have changed something in their own way of thinking and are today able and willing to talk about the functioning of a Roma family and closed Roma communities.

“Better knowledge means better understanding,” Magdolenová said about their motivation to publish the interviews.

“Our aim was to discover the intimate questions of how the Roma community works, so we prepared a basic set of questions,” she explained. The interviews were conducted either in Romani or in Slovak, depending upon the preference of the respondent. Finally, the authors conducted interviews with each other in an attempt to find out how doing the interviews had influenced or changed them.
“In Jarmila’s case it’s also a continuation of the topic because she too comes from the environment of a Roma community and she still lives in such an environment,” Magdolenová said.

In its final book version there will be 10 interviews published in three languages – Romani, Slovak and English.

Magdolenová is hoping the book will be released by the end of 2009. In the meantime, they are gradually publishing their interviews on the RPA website and some of them also will be published for the readers of The Slovak Spectator.

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