-  Health Promotion for Roma Women  -

In the absence of a comprehensive policy to address their situation, the Roma population in Turkey faces social exclusion and marginalization with respect to education, and discrimination with respect to health services. The Roma population also contends with poverty, displacement and lack of social services.

Living in substandard and overcrowded conditions in outlying areas most of the Roma people are employed in odd jobs. As in any traditional community in Turkey, in Roma communities as well early and forced marriages are a cause for concern, as such marriages often lead to reproductive health risks and domestic abuse.

Further, the project is engaging relevant stakeholders in identifying remedies and strategies to improve healthcare for Roma and non-Roma women living in settlements affected by the evictions and resettlements resulting from urban transformation projects.

Since the project’s start in February 2012, the following activities have taken place in the targeted communities:

  • In the Catalca district of Istanbul, where heavy flooding destroyed a major part of the Kaleiçi neighbourhood in 2008, leaving about 350 Roma people homeless, training sessions/health workshops were held in the temporary container settlement, brochures were distributed and women received medical check-ups for further referral. In addition, questionnaires about health issues were completed with the women to contribute to a database and benchmarking and to facilitate future interventions.
  • 1,000 brochures about women’s health were published and distributed.
  • 200 meetings were initiated with stakeholders, representatives of women’s organisations and neighbourhood women.
  • 18 training sessions/workshops about health entitled “The Afternoon Talks” were held in six disadvantaged communities in Istanbul, each one attended by 10 to 50 women.
  • One Roma Women Health Seminar was held in Istanbul, where about 50 participants debated issues related to addressing women’s health in disadvantaged communities.
  • About 30 Roma women from Edirne (a town on the border between Bulgaria and Greece, about a two-hour drive from Istanbul) and environs attended a workshop provided by volunteer doctors and received brochures to distribute in their neighbourhoods.

In July 2012 training was organised in a kahvehane (a traditional tea house where only men usually gather… which meant that they emptied the place for the women for  the event), in Çavuşbey neighborhood, with the help of EDROM – the Roma NGO in Edirne, that mobilized the community. The training was provided, on a volunteer basis, by the doctors Evşen Çetin and Seher Çimen Özgen from KETEM – Early Cancer Diagnosis Check-up and Training Center. Thirty Roma women participated in the training.

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