FemFusion: Equality trends in Roma activism – discussion 

What challenges do Roma activists and activists from Ukraine face? What has changed 2 years of war? What role do women’s movements play in building change? On 18 January, the Roma Community Centre will host “FemFusion: Trends of Equality in Roma Activism”, where we will explore the topic of Roma activism by combining feminist, academic and reporter perspectives. 

The specificity of the experience of war among Roma women and men has resulted in a redefinition of the concept of Roma activism. Values such as social solidarity, empathy and sisterhood have gained importance. Especially relevant in the context of the determination to strive for equality. Hence the need for us to create a space conducive to an open conversation that allows us to better understand the challenges faced by the Roma community in the face of the realities of war. And this is one of the things we want to focus on during the meeting ‘FemFusion: Trends of equality in Roma activism’, which will be attended by Anzhelika Bielova – founder of the Voice of Romni Foundation, Małgorzata Kołaczek – vice-president of the Foundation Towards Dialogue, and Piotr Wójcik – photojournalist documenting the Roma community in Europe since 1991.  

The meeting will take place at the Roma Community Centre in Warsaw and will be streamed online on the Foundation’s Towards Dialogue Facebook page.   

18th of january (Thursday), 18:00 – 19:30
Roma Community Centre
Skrzetuskiego 36a str., Warsaw

Anzhelika Bielova
was born and raised in Zaporizhia, in the southeastern part of Ukraine. She founded the Roma women’s organization “Roma Women’s Association – Voice of Romni” in 2020 and became a regional representative of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress, promoting gender equality policies and protecting the rights of women and girls in the Zaporizhia region. Thanks to entrepreneurship development projects among Romani women, which were implemented by the Voice of Romni organization during 1.5 years, 74 Romani women obtained specializations and employment. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, she continues to coordinate the work of her organization, providing humanitarian assistance to Roma in southeastern Ukraine (Zaporozhye, Dnipro, Crooked Horn, Kharkiv, Kherson, Donetsk), western Ukraine (Transcarpathia) and evacuating Roma to safe places. For nearly two years since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukrainian territory, Voice of Romni has helped more than 60,000 people from vulnerable groups. It actively advocates for the rights of Roma and Roma refugees from Ukraine at the international level (UN regional forums on minority issues, Council of Europe “Dialogue with Roma and Traveller Civil Society” meetings, German Foundation Day, Ukrainian Women’s Congress, Icelandic Women’s Congress, Feminist Foreign Policy Forum in the Netherlands, etc.).

Piotr Wojcik worked as a photojournalist and head of the photo department at Gazeta Wyborcza from 1989 to 2011. He has been documenting the Roma community in Europe since 1991. In 2011 he became an academic lecturer at the Łódź Film School and currently teaches photojournalism at the Faculty of Documentary Studies at Warsaw University. Together with Dominique Roynette, he created the Picture Doc Foundation, where he has been creating and promoting documentary projects for 10 years. Author of books and exhibitions about social and political events in Poland and the Roma in Europe. Repeatedly awarded in press photography competitions.

Małgorzata Kołaczek – PhD in political science, associate professor in the Institute of Intercultural Studies at the Jagiellonian University, where she also works as deputy director for didactic affairs. Vice-president of the Foundation Towards Dialogue. Co-founder of the Poland-Roma-Ukraine group, that supports Roma communities of Ukrainian origin as part of the foundation’s activities. Co-founder of the Roma Community Center in Warsaw. Review editor of the Romani Studies journal of the scientific Gypsy Lore Society. Graduate of Public Relations at WSE in Cracow and Academy of Professional Coach at SGH in Warsaw. Academically and didactically, she is engaged in ethnic issues, especially the Roma community and their situation in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as issues of migration, image creation and minority presence in the media in Poland and around the world. Author of books, grantee of scientific and didactic programs, educator, anti-discrimination trainer. Coordinator of educational and research projects, creator of educational programs and tools.

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