From UNDP in Europe and Central Asia 

A short graphic novel released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is drawing attention to the multiple forms of discrimination faced by Roma women in the Western Balkans.

Coinciding with International Roma Day, Daria: A Roma Woman’s Journey tells the story of a woman and her family living in Serbia as they struggle with poverty and discrimination. The story depicts the profound impact of early marriage on the lives of Roma girls and women.

“We wanted to draw attention to the issue of early and forced marriage because of the many ways it affects Roma women,” explains Bharati Sadasivam, Gender Team Leader for UNDP in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

“Although early marriage affects many communities worldwide, it can magnify gender inequality for communities like the Roma that face many forms of discrimination. Lower levels of education, higher rates of unemployment and poverty, higher probability of violence, inadequate housing are all interlinked and play a major role in the lives of women like Daria.”                         

According to the most recent research carried out by the European Commission, UNDP and the World Bank, 15 percent of Roma women are employed and two in three Roma women have no income. Moreover, Roma women spend only about five years in education, half as long as non-Roma women do.

“Roma communities need better education, employment and income, as well as access to good housing and social services,” said Jasmina Papa, social inclusion advisor at UNDP Croatia. “Isn’t it time we made a collective stand to support Roma women and girls who dream of a better future?”

Scroll below or click here to view the graphic novel: