Roma population is affected disproportionately by the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic determined a number of negative changes and impacts on the population. The pandemic affected Roma people in a disproportionate way and this is mainly due to their low standard of living and to the phenomenon of pronounced social marginalisation. These are the findings of ‘The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Roma Population’, a research performed by the Roma National Center in partnership with UN Women and funded by Sweden.

Celebration event of three Roma women in local councils. Photo Credit: UN Women / Ramin Mazur

The pandemic has deepened the clean-cut division of gender roles in Roma households. The care duties have completely become the responsibility of women, while men became almost completely uninvolved. Roma women stated that the number of hours they spend for cleaning has increased (70%), and so did the time spent for cooking (62%).

From a health perspective, Roma people have proven to be more vulnerable during the pandemic. More than half of the Roma people had some emotional health conditions. Roma women were the most affected by this: about 72% compared to 37% for men. More than 50% of the Roma people did not seek healthcare services even when they had a health problem that required a medical check-up. They also had limited access to basic services, such as social assistance and healthcare services.

Most Roma people have no access or have no resources to purchase personal protective equipment against COVID-19. During lockdown, the absolute majority of Roma women did not have access to protective equipment (gloves, mask) – 95% (in the case of men – 80%).

Roma people with low levels of education were affected the most by this crisis, these also accounting for a greater share among those who lost their jobs. About 70% of respondents without education or with primary education (4 grades) and 40% of the respondents with incomplete education reported losing their jobs. The pandemic led to a decrease in the income obtained by Roma people from economic activities. For more than 65% of the Roma people, it would be a financial struggle to purchase medicines worth of MDL 200.

Training session: "Provide Extensive Support to Romani Women to Run for Local Elections". Photo Credit: UN Women / Ramin Mazur

The report can be accessed by clicking on the link.

This research was performed during April-May 2020 by the Roma National Center, in partnership with UN Women and funded by Sweden. The survey was carried out on a sample of 200 Roma people from 12 communities. The purpose of the analysis was to identify issues related to Roma participation in employment and income generation, as well as to detect gender inequalities in care and welfare during the pandemic. 


UN entities involved in this initiative
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women