On the occasion of the upcoming Hungarian census taking place between 1 October and 28 November 2022, we are happy to launch our Proud Roma, Free Europe campaign in Hungary. The census will consist of 3 main phases:
- 1st phase (1 – 16 October 2022): All Hungarian citizens can fill out the census questionnaire online
- 2nd phase (census enumerators will reach the citizens who did not fill out the census online)
- 3rd phase (people who could not be reached during the second phase will have to contact designated public offices to complete the census questionnaire).
The 2022 census in Hungary holds great importance for PRFE, as Hungary has been for many years a strategic hub for the transnational Roma movement.
The last census in 2011, which was preceded by a nationwide campaign called “We belong here – Census 2011” led by the late Hungarian Roma civil rights activist Jenő Setét, showed an increase in the number of Roma declarations and put the Roma population at 315,583, comprising 3.18% of the total Hungarian population. However, many unofficial sources estimate that Hungary is home to more than 800,000 Roma people, most of whom self-identify as Romungros, Vlach Roma or Beash.
In an effort to increase the civic engagement of Roma in the run-up to the census next month and ensure accurate reporting on Hungarian demographics related to Roma, Proud Roma is deploying its local campaign in Hungary fueled by Roma pride and targeting young Roma in particular.
The Proud Roma campaign will be supported by our local coordinators Melinda Vajda and Csaba Oláh, who are leading an online communications campaign on the social media platform Romák a tisztességes politikáért, spreading the language of pride and focusing on the promotion of census participation among Hungarian Roma. The campaign will offer positive narratives of Roma identity, culture, history and language, and will also address Roma civil rights and the fears and distrust associated with Roma participation in census registration.
“Both of us come from a smaller Roma community,” Melinda explains, “where people are proud of their identity. But we are also aware of the distrust which causes the low number of Roma people who declare their ethnicity. With the online campaign, our main goal is to get a result close to the real number in terms of Roma people.”
“Declaring our Roma or Hungarian Roma identity means that we are proud of our history, culture, and language, and we are proud of our ancestors who even in the harshest circumstances stood for peace, freedom, and dignity. Publicly declaring ourselves as Roma means that we see ourselves as valuable as anyone else,” continues Csaba.
Melinda Vajda is a Roma linguistic expert, who holds an MA degree from Central European University in Sociology and Social Anthropology. She is currently doing a PhD at ELTE, in Applied Linguistics, focusing on Roma migration, language reacquisition, identity, and belonging. Additionally, she is teaching Romani language at the CEU-RGPP program and working as an employment coordinator at the Roma Education Fund.
Csaba Oláh holds a degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Central European University. He is currently based in Budapest, working with Roma Education Fund in supporting young adults in their studies and careers. Csaba was raised in a Roma community whose members were strongly devoted to upholding Roma culture and pride, therefore he is very motivated to contribute to shaping a national campaign focused on Roma pride.