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Fatima Bergendahl

Stockholm, 27.09.2015

"Every woman has to decide alone by herself if she wants to work outside the house. It’s not like five hundred years ago, now we are in the 2000s. Here everybody can go to school, not just stay at our towns, cook for our family, and be with the kids. If we want our kids to have better future, me as a mother I think that every woman should go to school."

Campaign
 “I’m a Roma Woman” Campaign
The Story
 
In the 20th century, women’s struggle for gender equality proved to be the very best investment our societies could make in our world’s economic and social development. Could Europe ever have imagined a mere 90 years ago that women would flood the workforce in droves, get the right to vote and, later, head some of the most prominent multinational companies of our times? How do you see a Roma woman today? How do the women of Europe’s largest minority see themselves and the rugged road towards equal opportunities for all?

These questions had been on our minds for years when we started the “I’m a Roma Woman” Campaign. We lead a Roma media advocacy NGO based in Budapest, Hungary, and decided to start searching for our own answers.

At the beginning of 2009 we agreed with Amnesty International Hungary on releasing a common campaign video for International Women’s Day focusing on Romani women’s activism. I (Katalin Bársony, the managing director of the Romedia Foundation, myself a Romani activist and film maker) gathered four of my friends and fellow activists living in Budapest, Hungary, and talked to them about the idea of participating in a common campaign. We five young women, from all over Europe, got acquainted throughout years of common action and participation in the International Romani Movement. They all agreed to feature in the video and talk about their experiences as Romani women. The next step was to organize a film shoot without any financial support. The Romedia Foundation is a media-based advocacy NGO and had been producing the Mundi Romani – the World through Roma Eyes news documentary series in coproduction with Duna Television Hungary for more than two years at the time. That meant we already had the experience, the contacts and the studio at Duna Television available for the shooting.

The video’s concept and storyline were developed by us (Katalin and Marion Kurucz, the Romedia Foundation’s producer, myself a young activist of different minority backgrounds) together with Mundi Romani’s director of photography Csaba Farkas, an award-winning Roma cinematographer.
 
 
The activists at the Duna Television studios, in Budapest, Hungary
 
The footage in-between the women’s “confessions” is taken from several Mundi Romani films we shot in Italy, Macedonia, Ukraine and Romania.

The video was released on YouTube on 8 March 2009 and screened on public screens all over Hungary; in metro stations, shopping centers, post offices, bars and restaurants for several days following International Women’s Day, reaching approximately 80,000 people in a few days. Growing interest from broadcasters and online media, as well as social network sites and word of mouth spread the campaign video around the world beyond all our expectations. French MSN Messenger users could see the video pop up each time they connected to their MSN page. In the US, the more than ten million viewers of the famous „Jezebel” blog for women could watch the campaign video and hear, many for the very first time, about who the Roma are.

A month after the release, in April 2009, the women featuring in the video held a common press conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, where the campaign’s message was brought to the fore again and led to increased coverage of the Conference they were attending.
 

The activists at the “Empowerment of Romani Women in the Context of Contemporary Social Policies – Exchange of Experience and Good Practices” in Sofia, Bulgaria
 
 
The success of the campaign video led CARE International North-West Balkans to show interest in creating a follow-up featuring women activists involved in their Roma Women Empowerment Project. An outstandingly successful cooperation began between the Romedia Foundation and CARE International, which led to the release at the II. European Roma Summit in Cordoba, Spain, on 8 April 2010 (International Roma Day) of the „I’m a Roma Woman Regional Campaign”. The video features Roma women from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and was shot in a week of intense traveling through the Western Balkans using state-of-the-art filming technology and some of the very best camera, sound and lighting technicians in Hungary.
 
 
 
Shooting the second campaign video in Jagodnjak, Croatia
 
CARE International campaigned with the video throughout the Western Balkans and reached unprecedented coverage for such an issue. Many hours of television broadcast and TV appearances by some of the featured activists put the issues Roma women in the region have to deal with into the media spotlight.

The music for both the first and the second „I’m a Roma Woman” video was composed by one of Hungary’s most famous jazz musicians, Gyula Babos. The lyrics were written for each video by fellow Roma activist Ágnes Daróczi, in Romanes.

In both campaign videos, the women featured are real, flesh and blood activists who have fought their way through many obstacles to reach a level of self-confidence and dedication to Roma empowerment that is inspiring to us all. During the creative development process, we always looked for those women, those stories, those situations which came most naturally and reflected the activists’ self-awareness, acquired through years of social activism. When we began to produce videos and films focused on a gender perspective, we had already been inspired by the hundreds of hours of audiovisual material we had shot across the world for the Mundi Romani – the World through Roma Eyes series about women activists. These women had shown us the fruits of their dedication and had opened up to our cameras about themselves, their lives, their identities, their goals and their dreams for the future.

 
 
 
We decided it was time to share all these experiences so that Roma women could inspire each other and the next generation. With the support of the Open Society Institute - Roma Initiatives, we are launching, on International Women’s Day 2011, a campaign site for all Roma women to SPEAK OUT AND BE THE CHANGE!
 
 
 
Katalin Bársony and Marion Kurucz of the Romedia Foundation with an award for a Mundi Romani film in 2010
 
„I’m a Roma Woman” campaign video - 2009
 
Directed by
Katalin Bársony
 
Produced by
Marion Kurucz
 
Director of Photography
Csaba Farkas
 
Additional Camera
Szilárd Tiszttartó
 
Edited by
Péter Kohut
 
Storyboard
Katalin Bársony, Csaba Farkas, Marion Kurucz, Emilia Klöpfler
 
Colorist
Benedek Kabán
 
Graphic design
Kamilla Kovács
 
Make-up artist
Eszter Szántó
 
Assistant
Emilia Klöpfler, Éva Blénesi
 
Music composed and recorded by
Babos Project Romani
 
Music lyrics by
Ágnes Daróczi
 
Many thanks to
Alina Covaci Taba, Ostalinda Maya Ovalle, Isabela Mihalache, Violeta Naydenova
Bernadett Sebaly at Amnesty International Hungary
Duna Television Hungary
 
 
„I’m a Roma Woman – Regional Campaign” video - 2010
 
Directed by
Katalin Bársony
 
Produced by
Marion Kurucz
 
Director of photography
Csaba Farkas
 
Camera technicians
Szilárd Tiszttartó, Kristóf Becsey
 
Edited by
Péter Kohut
 
Storyboard
Katalin Bársony, Csaba Farkas, Marion Kurucz
 
Sound
István Perger
 
Lighting
Bálint Marafkó, Gábor Balda
 
Jimmy Jib technician
Csaba Oláh
 
Colorist
Benedek Kabán
 
Graphic design
István Császár
 
Make-up artist
Márta Kollár
 
Production assistants
Emilia Klöpfler, Catalin Mihai Cazacu
 
Technical support
Catalin Mihai Cazacu
 
Studio scenes shot at Bunika Studios – Zagreb, Croatia
 
Music composed and recorded by
Babos Project Romani
 
Music lyrics by
Ágnes Daróczi
 
Many thanks to
Alena Tahirovic, Radmila Vasic, Fatima Naza, Nada Todorovic Bogdan
Zvjezdana Batkovic and Jadranka Milicevic at CARE International North West Balkans
Beatrix Tóth
SPARKS Camera and Lighting Ltd.