The European Roma Rights Centre and League of Human Rights invite applications for a gender research fellowship

13. března 2014

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the League of Human Rights invite applications for the position of the Gender Research Fellow. In 2014, the Gender Fellowship focuses on the particular issue of involuntary sterilisation of Romani women and women with disabilities in the Czech Republic. We are looking for researchers and activists with robust experience in conducting gender-specific, collaborative and action-oriented qualitative research. The ERRC specifically encourages researchers and activists from the Romani, Sinti and Travellers communities to apply for the Fellowship.


Deadline for applications: 15 April 2014


Information about the fellowship

The Fellowship is expected to start in May 2014 and will last for 7 months. The Fellow will be jointly supervised by the ERRC and League staff members. The selected Fellow will work closely with ERRC and League staff members on designing research objectives, selecting cases, tailoring methodology for fieldwork and document analysis, and ensuring compliance with ethical standards of social research, as relevant.

The selected Fellow will be offered a 7-months contract and an office space at the League’s central office in Brno, the Czech Republic. Fellows will additionally spend up to two weeks at the ERRC office in Budapest, Hungary at the start of the fellowship to finalise their research proposal. The ERRC offers the Fellow a monthly stipend and financial support for expenses occurred during the field research.


Research Frame

In Czechoslovakia, a Public Decree on Sterilisation from 1972 enabled public authorities to take programmatic steps to encourage the sterilisation of Romani women and women with disabilities placed in mental institutions in order to control their birth-rate. This legal provision resulted in giving public authorities more or less free reign to systematically sterilise Romani women and women with disabilities without their full and informed consent. The practice of sterilising women against their will did not end with the fall of Communism, when the specific Decree was formally abolished, but it continued throughout the transition to liberal democracy. The Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsperson) Otakar Motejl published a report in 2005 on the practice of sterilisation of Romani women pre and post 1989 – a report that included preliminary data on the scope of the problem and recommendations to the Czech Government on how to address the issue and compensate victims of coercive sterilisation. Meanwhile a significant number of international bodies issued compensation recommendations: the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (in 2006 and 2010), the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (in 2007), the UN Human Rights Committee (2007), the UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review (2008) and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (2009). In November 2009, government authorities acknowledged individual failures of hospital personnel and expressed regret for involuntary sterilisations. However, the governmental response to date has not gone any further to introduce any form of compensation mechanism for women harmed by this practice.

The 2014 Gender Research Fellowship should closely follow up the existing evidence of previous legal and policy research on involuntary (forced and coercive) sterilisation with a qualitative research insight into the life course of women harmed by involuntary sterilisation. Focusing on a selected number of case studies, it should develop a qualitative component to existing documents and reports. Specific cases should demonstrate life trajectories of individual women against the background of state laws, policies and hospital practice. Case studies should provide insight into the women’s life before sterilisation; describing the context of the sterilisation act, as well as its consequences on their family, professional and personal life and their heath status.

The research proposal should embrace general awareness of Roma rights and disability rights issues and specifically it should demonstrate basic familiarity with the institutional frame and practice of involuntary sterilisations of Romani women and/or women with disabilities in the Czech Republic. It should also propose preliminary suggestions for (1) research design, (2) methodology for document analysis, selection of case studies, and empirical fieldwork, and (3) solutions for ethical clearance for conducting research on an ethically challenging issue.

Research projects should be action-oriented and collaborative, i.e. they should aim at informing Romani women/women with disabilities or enabling them to benefit from the research (advocacy, direct action, litigation, raising awareness, etc.). The Fellow will also be expected to support the ERRC and League’s domestic and international advocacy and litigation strategies.


Profile of the applicants

The ERRC/League seek the Fellow with significant experience of living and working in Romani communities/or people with disabilities and who have been engaged in work with Romani communities/or people with disabilities for extended periods. The selected fellow should have robust skills in developing and conducting a qualitative action-oriented research, including the use of collaborative and gender-sensitive methods. The Fellow should be fluent in Czech and have a working knowledge of English. Knowledge of Romani language will be considered an advantage. The ERRC specifically encourages researchers and activists from the Romani, Sinti and Travellers communities to apply for the Fellowship.


Application Procedure

To apply for this Fellowship, candidates should send the following application materials:

  • A maximum two-page research proposal proposing research design, methodology, and ethical clearance for conducting fieldwork 
  • A maximum one-page letter of interest describing personal motivation for engaging with the issue of involuntary sterilisation of Romani women and/or women with disabilities
  • CV specifying qualitative research experience and expertise withcollaborative and gender specific projects; and
  • The contact details of two referees familiar with the applicant’s educational or work background.

Candidates should submit their documents by 15 April 2014 via email to Dora Eke. The message should be entitled: Gender Research Fellowship – Czech Republic.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted in the course of the selection process. Incomplete or late application packages will not be considered for the position.

Please note: According to ERRC understanding, the term „Roma“ refers also to other groups related to Roma and groups who are perceived by the majority populations as Roma.