Initial issue paper

Enikő Magyari-Vincze



The issue

The access to reproductive health is defined and recognized by the international community and by the Romanian government as an important dimension of public health. Moreover, it talks about the process of the de jure and de facto democratic reform in our society (and eventually about the reproduction of the social and cultural mechanisms of exclusion and discrimination). Further on it reflects the ways by which the local (reproductive) health policies are responding (or are failing to respond) to the interests and the particular conditions of the affected groups (in our case, Roma women).


The importance of the research

In order to assure the democratic access to the public (health) services of all societal groups (regardless of their ethnicity, gender, economic condition, age, etc.), reproductive health policies need to be aware about the mechanisms by which social segregation and cultural divides are transforming the Roma communities into underserved ones. My research will identify the obstacles of the reproductive health services usage both from the point of view of the medical system and from the perspective of Roma women’s life conditions. The differences between the conceptions of Roma women and of doctors about the health situation of the former might have important policy implications that I would like to explore.



As a whole, my research aims to make policy recommendations that overcome the gaps between reproductive health policy and Roma policy, and are conscious about the need to build connections between gender and ethnic awareness in order to be able to respond to the particular situation of Romani women. This is going to be followed through:


Research methods

The investigation of the reproductive health policy consists of the analysis of the terms by which the issue is defined, of the principles that guide the underlying conception, of the recognized and neglected aspects of the problem, and of the type of the discourse that shapes and controls the whole approach. In addition I am planning to make the same analysis of the Roma policy in Romania in order to identify the ways in which this might be changed in order to become more gender sensitive.

The analysis of the medical system through which reproductive health services are offered (its structural barriers and hidden racism) consists of a qualitative case study done in Hunedoara county, Romania, in particular in the city of Orastie and neighboring villages. Data was and will be collected through semi-structured individual and group interviews with medical doctors and assistants.

In order to identify the life conditions of Roma women, their cultural conceptions about and social practices related to their bodies, gender relations, childcare, abortion, contraception and medical system I made and will make several in-depth interviews at the location mentioned above where one has the chance to encounter both a more traditional Roma community and the community of “băieşi” where people do not speak the Romani language. The consultation of the background ethnographic literature and of relevant reports and studies on Roma communities from Romania is also among my aims.