Sustainable Space for Participation and Engagement - Stimulating the Mother Centers in Bulgaria and SerbiaSustainable Space for Participation and Engagement - Stimulating the Mother Centers in Bulgaria and SerbiaBulgaria Roma MCSustainable Space for Participation and Engagement - Stimulating the Mother Centers in Bulgaria and Serbia

Expected impact

Mother Centers are a benefit to society on many levels. The brochure in annex (in German) states 15 benefits like integration, strengthening of civil society, democracy etc. Mother Centers are not something offered to poor women. Instead, it is a kind of alchemy. Mother Centers work in their own modest, down to earth and small scaled way. They “walk the talk” often without being aware of it. The most vulnerable community members, women and children, are support to rediscover the strength in themselves and to offer benefits to society at large.
With this project we expect to contribute to the achievements of goals of several EU and national strategic documents. First, the project will contribute to the Bulgarian National Roma Integration Strategy (NRIS) 2014-2020, which was adopted by the Bulgarian Parliament in 2013 in response to the EU Communication on Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 . Currently, most of the Bulgarian municipalities have elaborated action plans for implementing the National Roma Integration Strategy 2014-2020, a document expected to contribute also to EU Strategy 2020. Within these action plans, most of the municipalities have planned to fight poverty through closing the gap between Roma and non Roma created from the structural inequalities. Women and children have particularly been targeted in the municipal action plans as most vulnerable members of the Roma community. In this sense, through giving the local activists and local authority appropriate competences in terms of the Mother Centers, and trough providing support for establishing Mother Centers, the project contributes to achievement of the National Roma Integration Strategy goals.
Second, if we look more specifically at the EU Strategy for the Danube region and the focus of the government of Baden-Württemberg, we can link our project to a range of objectives therein. In this project we want to stimulate the emancipation of women and the integration of Roma in society. We want to go beyond ‘just’ supporting Mother Centers. We want to create partnerships resulting in long lasting support for Roma Mother Centers. Partnerships with grassroots groups are a way to strengthen the influence of Roma civil society groups and to help them to speak for their own interests.
All the activities lead towards strengthening the organisation of Roma women into Mother Centers. The Centers directly contribute to fighting poverty and promoting social inclusion. They are places where the participants discover and strengthen their competences and raise their self-confidence. Through the group their lives are bettered. The women learn new skills with regard to raising their children, and as a group learn to advocate for their rights. Through the process of negotiating with the authorities for space they practice formulating their needs, voicing their opinions and bringing in their perspectives into the local governance process. In order to have a bigger leverage, we include not only Roma activists but also local authority staff in the trainings. If Mother Centers get acknowledged due to the results in Priority area 9 of the Danube Strategy, the active support to them can take root as a concretisation of Priority area 10. Our practical down to earth way of ‘living’ important aspects of policy like empowerment, Roma integration and strengthening civil society, can encourage authorities. This may result in a multiplier effect on the ground.