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Statement February 20, 2018

Roma Sounding Board Statement on Abolition of Roma Slavery Day

February 20, 2018 marks the 162nd anniversary of the abolition of Roma slavery in the Romanian principalities. Understanding and raising public awareness of Roma history and how it still impacts today’s society is central to advancing efforts to achieve inclusive growth and equal opportunities for all.

In today’s Romania about 42 percent of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. One in five Romanians is income poor. Many of these people in poverty are Roma. Roma have a 10 times higher risk of being poor than the general population regardless of their age, education, or area of residence. In 2013, for example, 33 percent of Roma were in absolute poverty while only 3.4 percent of non-Roma were below the poverty line.

Roma poverty and exclusion is a historic challenge Romania faces. These challenges can be addressed through targeted interventions that support equality of opportunity for Roma in early childhood development, employment, health and living conditions. Implementing these interventions requires strong ownership at the national level, coordinated policies across different ministries and government levels, and an integrated delivery system that develops individual interventions in a participatory manner, using locally customized approaches.

The Roma Sounding Board was established with World Bank support to identify areas for increased policy attention for the Roma, deliver Roma perspectives, and propose potential solutions for improving development outcomes and strengthening the social inclusion of Roma in Romania. We remain committed to working with development partners and supporting the Government of Romania in advancing interventions that aim to promote equal rights and the socio-economic inclusion of Roma, in particular Roma women and girls, and to support the full participation of Roma in the political, social and economic development of their communities.


Victor Neagu