Ukrainian Roma Activist Fighting for Her People’s Rights

April 22, 2021

With a population numbering 120-400 000, Roma people are the most discriminated and marginalized community in Ukraine.

Anzhelika Bielova is trying to change that. She is the Executive Director of the Lacho Drome Roma Center in Zaporizhzhia.

In 2019, Anzhelika survived a knife attack. While it is unclear her attack was a hate crime, the Roma activist says her people are constantly dealing with online hate speech.

Education is the major challenge for Roma people, Anzhelika says. “The lack of education entails problems with getting a job, with access to different social security services, self-fulfilment and feeling human dignity”.

But since Roma women suffer from multiple discrimination, Anzhelika is especially focused on gender inequality in the community.

She launched the Voice of Romni Association of Roma Women in 2020 which educates women on their rights and career prospects.

During the pandemic, many Roma women have lost their jobs in retail. So the NGO organized workshops to help them gain new skills

They also started closed groups to talk openly about domestic violence and other problems.

While the fight for Roma rights is ongoing, Anzhelika sees progress.

"If we overcome discrimination against the Roma, we will overcome the discrimination against different social groups, as well.”

Author: Iryna Matviyishyn

The material was prepared with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the project Stories from Ukraine. The material reflects the position of the authors and does not necessarily coincide with the position of the International Renaissance Foundation.

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