Of course, the Covid 19 pandemic also limited our personal encounters with Roma women activists. However, we were in contact by phone. We shared the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken by state institutions to prevent its spread to our daily lives and the lives of women in the community.
Women were concerned that freedom of movement would be restricted by public authorities in the marginalized Roma communities where they live, in the event of a COVID 19 outbreak. They pointed to the unavailability of basic protective equipment such as face masks and disinfectants and to the passivity of local governments. Women in this regard turned to the Public Defender of Rights. Some of the women also pointed to problems with the distance education of their children during closed school facilities. They asked about the possibilities of supporting the education of their children and also the provision of basic school supplies, including workbooks for children. Thanks to the Roma Education Fund, we finally managed to secure these for them.
Despite the fact that many women do not have access to the Internet, we managed to organize an online meeting via social media in May. 10 women from two localities joined. We agreed that we organize a personal meetingas soon as possible so that we could plan further activities together.
In June, as the government gradually relaxed the measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we organized a personal meeting in Prešov. We were pleased to see each other again and realized how important it is for all of us to be in personal contact. We talked to the women about further possible advocacy activities towards the new government, especially in relation to the compensation of illegally sterilized Roma women.
We realise the meetings thanks to the Open Society Foundation - Promoting Human Rights of the Roma Minority and Mobilization Roma Communities in Slovakia and the Follow-up Core Grant of the Sigrid Rausing Trust supporting our work on the Protection of Roma Women Rights.