Roma Forum of Serbia – a winner of the 2023 EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Türkiye

Roma Forum of Serbia (FRS), one of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Europe strategic partners in Serbia, has been recognized for its efforts in promoting Roma inclusion in the digital agenda and green economy by winning the “EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Türkiye” this year. FRS has been acknowledged for their work in filling the digital skill gaps of the Roma community, by facilitating access to education and employment. The award especially recognizes FRS’s work with secondary raw material collectors, which emerged as the result of collaboration and support by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Europe.

The programme for secondary raw material collectors was introduced for the first time in 2019 and implemented in the cities of Nis, Novi Sad (2019 and 2020), Pozarevac, and Bor (2021, 2022) and Nis and Pozarevac (2023). During this period, FRS worked on raising awareness of the collectors on their position within the recycling business and opened the possibilities for organizing into cooperatives or other forms of economic entities to achieve a better negotiating position and pricing of raw materials. The programme also tackled the issue of recognition of their rights as workers and inclusion in trade union organizing. FRS worked with the trade union Nezavisnost (Independence) and the Republic Trade Union of Secondary Raw Materials Collectors to investigate the possibilities of legalizing labour, obtaining financial support from various funds and programs for legalized labour and improving the work of public utility companies.

The result of this work is close cooperation with the Republic Trade Union of Secondary Raw Materials Collectors. Although the membership in this trade union is open to collectors throughout Serbia, the majority of their activities are based in Nis. In recent years, the trade union has implemented some important projects aimed at improving the position of the collectors and waste management, some of them in cooperation with FRS. Thanks to FRS’s work, their work is promoted in other cities and complemented by the experiences of collectors outside of Nis.

In addition to the work with the collectors of secondary raw materials, the award also gave a special acknowledgement to the programme titled “Education for All”, implemented with the support of Goethe Institute, with the aim to improve access to education and promote digital literacy among the Roma community. The programme offered support to children, parents, and schools on how to navigate the online environment and keep up with the school program during the challenging shift to schooling from home and after schools reopened.

The award recognizes and encourages FRS’s further work in improving the position of Roma people and our joint efforts towards creating a more equitable and just society in Serbia and the region.

You can learn more about the award recipients by clicking on the link below:

Photo by EU DG NEAR