Working Mechanisms of Empowerment Programs on the Agency of Roma Women in Montenegro

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 6D P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Bojana BULATOVIC, Master Erasmus Mundus Intercultural Mediation: Identities, Mobilities, Conflicts (MITRA), Belgium
In this paper I focus on the interplay of gender, culture and empowerment in the case of Roma women in Montenegro who choose to break with certain aspects of tradition and patriarchy in order to realize either their work or education goals or to gain autonomy in other fields of their life. More precisely, I explore the working mechanisms of empowerment programs that contribute to the change in terms of agency and gender equality of Roma woman, in mainly Roma and non-Roma communities in Montenegro. Therefore, the concepts that are central to my research topic are at the intersection of gender, culture and empowerment.

I will shortly elaborate on their interconnectedness further on. If we choose to analyze Roma culture through an essentialist perspective, assuming that time, place and context have negligible effect on it, we could conclude that Roma will act the same way regardless of whether they are owners of a property, artisans, refugees, artists, well-educated or not. Moreover, we would neglect the importance of their migration path, their place of residence and their civil and political rights in a respective society. We may even go further and say that all Roma worldwide have preserved the same cultural traits over centuries. The vision of their group as homogeneous would imply that individuals, man or woman, young, adult or old neither could nor would choose their developmental path and thus deviate from the mainstream norm. This approach leaves little space for support mechanisms for those who choose not to conform to the majority norms as it is presumed that the Culture and group rules matter more than the individual choice.