OSCE participating States must address issues of discrimination, access to education and adequate housing and reducing poverty to lessen the health inequalities between Roma and non-Roma women, said participants at the annual OSCE human rights conference in Warsaw on 26 September 2012.
At a discussion organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the European Roma Rights Centre on the margins of the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, participants noted that Romani women face discrimination on multiple grounds.
Poor housing, the lack of access to education opportunities and the exclusion of Roma from public health insurance schemes were noted by participants as having a negative impact on Roma health. The disadvantaged position of Romani women compared to Romani men means that they are disproportionately affected, they added.
Andrzej Mirga, ODIHR’s Senior Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues, said that the OSCE’s Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti, which was adopted by participating States in 2003, suggests measures on how to improve the access to healthcare for Romani women.
“Romani women’s rights and gender equality need to be supported and promoted by state policies, together with the active involvement of Romani women,” he said. “Much more has to be done to provide Romani women with quality healthcare.”
Discrimination against Romani women in access to healthcare has been a particular problem in the areas of reproductive and maternal health. Coerced sterilization has been among the most flagrant violations of Romani women’s rights in the past, noted Elena Gorolova from the Group of Roma Women Harmed by Sterilization. “Governments should act decisively to compensate victims of forced sterilizations,” she added.