Being the largest ethnic minority in Europe, Roma people living in Europe are commemorated every year on 8 April. This year’s International Roma Day celebrates the 45th anniversary of the first World Romani Congress in London. At this conference on 8 April 1971, the Roma flag and anthem were accepted to represent the Roma people. The first World Romani Congress underlined the need  to fight for equal rights of Roma and to join forces to combat anti-gypsyism. Today, anti-gypsyism is still the main reason for the social exclusion and discrimination of Roma persons living in Europe and the unfamiliarity with the Roma Holocaust during WWII, in which at least 500 000 Roma were killed.

Recognizing anti-gypsyism as a specific form of discrimination and racism and combating all its various forms at all levels of society, are the first steps to make an efficient change in the lives of the estimated ten to twelve million Roma living in Europe. Taking a strong stance against anti-gypsyism, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 15 April 2015 on the occasion of International Roma Day and established a recommendation for Member States to recognize European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day each year on 2 August.

On International Roma Day, ETUCE underlines the importance of the education sector in battling stereotypes and prejudices. In this light, ETUCE represented teachers, school leaders and other education staff at the meeting on ‘Anti-gypsyism: possible responses’, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 5 April 2016. ETUCE member organisations play a crucial role in supporting Roma rights and developing education policies aimed at effectively including Roma children in education.