This article was contributed in support of the United Nations Development Programme, originally published here. The graphic novel, Daria: A Roma Woman's Journey was created by Positive Negatives and UNDP. The full graphic novel can be found here. 

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.

Image: © UNDP Europe and CIS

“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.

Image: © UNDP Europe and CIS

“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.”

Image: © UNDP Europe and CIS

According to the most recent research carried out by the European Commission, UNDP and the World Bank, only 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.

Image: © UNDP Europe and CIS

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

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of each of the partners of Global Citizen.


Demand Equity

UNDP graphic novel sheds light on how child marriage affects Roma women