We are a community of Roma voices determined to develop leadership with depth, diversity, and
skills for building power, organizing action, and enforcing change, to advance leadership practice
through systemic shared learning and development, and to build on-the-ground collective agency
and diverse Roma communities.
We have survived thousands of years of persecution, we are strong, and we are proud to be Roma.
Why this campaign matter?
Slovakia will organize its population and housing census starting on February 15.2021. This “statistical operation” held every ten years, has many implications for every community in the country. We know that ethnic minorities in Slovakia make up for about 20% of the total population, and among them, us Roma are unofficially the largest minority in the country. However, previous census counts failed to reflect our real numbers. According to the previous census in 2011, there are 105,738 declared Roma, but we know that there are many more of us! Estimates of our people show at least 440,000 and a maximum of about 600,000 Roma (11% of the total population).
Historically, we have been undercounted in all official censuses. There are different reasons for this: systemic oppression and injustice, ethnic profiling, social stigmatization and assimilation, ethnically biased methodologies, and power inequalities. We realized why the government does this. If the census shows fewer than we are, others will take our resources and leave the development of our communities devastated. It is also about systemic corruption. Our public funds are wasted because the statistics are corrupted and do not show where the actual problems are and who needs public support the most. This is not good for our country and its Roma.
The critical question is: Will Slovakia choose to be a free country in which Roma can freely declare their ethnicity? Besides, will other minorities restrain themselves from assimilationist and violent behavior and respect the freedom of Roma?
About the campaign
Our goal is to enable Roma to take part and freely declare their ethnicity in the Slovakian 2021 population and housing census. We are proud of belonging to Roma communities that are rich in diversity, share much, and can collectively progress. We know that census data can inform decisions on public programs, services, available resources, and business investments. These data will determine the locations of investments affecting schools, hospitals, and health care services, new housing developments, and other community facilities. Besides, more accurate and complete data can get Roma in a better position in Slovakian democracy to take part in public decisions on issues that affect them. It is smart for Slovakia to recognize that our loyalty, size, youth, workers, entrepreneurs, and voters are essential for our future, the future of Slovakia, and Europe’s future.