RoMoMatter-Empowering Girls

Empowering Roma Girls' Mattering through Reproductive Justice

A North American teen girl reflects on the situation of Roma girls

   By Ava Barish

 The Romomatter adaptation team interviewed teen girls from the anti-racist North American teen group Her Flowers to talk about reproductive justice, learn about Roma communities in Europe, and find ways to support Roma girls. Here we interviewed Ava Barish, a high school senior. 

 As a teen, what makes you want to be a part of something?

 Now, more than ever, a sense of community makes me really want to participate in things. While things that align with my interests are of course appealing to me, different things can also be attractive when I understand what the value of doing them is.

 What tools or resources would you use to spread a message you care about? 

I see social media used as a tool to spread information and resources amongst people my age. However, in my experience, this is actually often ineffective, as people often just scroll past. I usually use direct outreach to individual people when trying to spread a message, or ask groups or clubs to spread the message, as their members will be more responsive when the information comes from a group they are a part of.

 What message would you like to give to decision-makers about making sure that Roma girls can dream of their futures?

I think the most important message that I would like to communicate is that all people suffer when any people are oppressed. It is important to help those facing such oppression, even if the impacts are isolated in a small community, for the greater good of the entire society.

 How would you like to help?

 While I think I could try to help through spreading information and educating people in my community about these problems, I think it would be really meaningful to get to connect with the girls you work with. Though I don’t know what form that would take, especially given challenges like the language barrier, we could maybe help to be an example of what life could look like without a fixation on marriage, showing what the possibilities can be for girls. I think that connections between young people can be really powerful, perhaps more so than with adults.

 Any other thoughts you’d like to share about Roma girls or reproductive justice?

 I found this conversation to be really fascinating. I think it brings to light the privileged way in which people in the U.S. consider issues like reproductive justice, focusing just on abortion rights rather than the larger scheme of reproductive justice. I would like to see us continue to examine the way in which we may be naive as we consider certain issues facing our own communities. Furthermore, I would love to get to continue this discussion, particularly as it pertains to the Roma community, to see what more we can do to help not just educate ourselves but begin to act.

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