Advisory Board on Romani Affairs
The task of the Advisory Board on Romani Affairs is to enhance the equal participation of the Roma population in the Finnish society, to improve their living conditions and socio-economic position and to promote their culture. Its work includes cooperation and expert help in matters involving the Roma and the authorities in Finland. The Government appointed the first Advisory Board on Romani Affairs in 1989, but its work actually began in 1956 under the name Advisory Board on Gypsy Affairs. The Advisory Board functions in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
The Government appoints the Advisory Board for three years at a time. The Advisory Board includes a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a maximum of 16 other members. Half of the members represent the Roma population; the other half represent the administrative sectors of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of the Environment, and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. The Advisory Board employs a full time General Secretary and a part-time secretary. The General Secretary prepares the work of the Advisory Board and carries out its decisions.
The Advisory Board convenes about ten times per year. The work section prepares matters to be brought up at meetings. Every year the Advisory Board organises seminars, to which both authorities and representatives of the Roma population are invited. The seminars deal with current themes of development included in the annual action plan of the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board has long been involved in european, international and Nordic cooperation.
The focuses of the Advisory Board’s activity are for example matters concerning housing and education, cultural affairs, employment and information. In educational matters, the focus is on pre-school education and adult education. The Advisory Board actively works to prevent work-related discrimination and to improve employment. The general goal is to prevent and eliminate discrimination.
There are four Regional Advisory Boards on Romani Affairs. The task of the Regional Advisory Boards is to support the local cooperation and Roma participation in municipalities and to prevent prejudice. Furthermore, they function as a cooperation body between the Roma and the authorities and launch development projects with a view to improving the position of the Roma population. The Regional Advisory Boards have contributed to the fulfilment of the principle of subsidiarity at the local level. They have existed for almost ten years and the experiences gained from their work are positive. Half of the members are Roma and the other half are civil servants.