14 SES 01 A, Migrant Parents' Perspectives, Engagement and Community Partnership
This presentation details the manner in which Irish Traveller women negotiate different spaces, in particular, the home-school interface within the context of a rapidly changing society. Previous writers (Helleiner 2000; Okely 1983) on Gypsy Traveller women recognised that withdrawal from the workforce into the home place has led to a reduction in Traveller women’s participation in the wider society (Okely 1975). Yet increasing engagement by Traveller women within the educational sector has had a significant impact of the way in which Traveller women’s identity is understood and negotiated both within and between communities.
This study, conducted over a six-year period in the North Western region of the Republic of Ireland is qualitative in nature and explores the lives of a small group of women from an ethnographic perspective. My relationships with the people involved in this study began fifteen years ago in 2000 and developed out of my experiences of working with the Travelling Community in Ireland in a variety of posts which took place in the arena of education.
The research is located in Baile Lucht Siúil, a fictional place that roughly translates as The Home-place of the Irish Travellers. Whilst the study focuses on the group known as Irish Travellers it is particularly cognisant of the fact that the majority of the participants in this study move between the U.K and Ireland.
Travellers and Roma experience marginalisation across Europe, in particular spatial marginalisation that impacts on their ability to participate in society through education and employment (European Parliament 2011). In the Common Basic Principles on Roma Inclusion the European Commission has stated that Roma women are more likely to experience social exclusion than both Roma men and women in the majority community, and are often victims of double discrimination: discrimination on the grounds of gender and ethnic origin. Women, as the primary carers in the family, are more likely to come into contact with service providers and members of the wider settled community through schools, social welfare, doctors etc. and consequently experience significantly more discrimination as a result. Travellers are highlighted as one of Ireland’s most vulnerable groups under the Europe 2020 Strategy. The National Reform Programme for Ireland acknowledges that targeted social inclusion programmes will be aimed at them. In 2006, the Irish Government published its national social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, which sets out a range of priority actions for Travellers in the areas of accommodation, education outcomes, opportunities for employment and communication between Travellers and the settled community. Recent Irish Government reports (Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures 2014, p. 52) identify Young Travellers and Early School Leavers as ‘a priority in terms of policy and provision’.
The way in which this research was conducted was by examining the following six key questions. Firstly, how does the school environment impact on Traveller women’s experience of themselves? Secondly, how has Traveller women’s educational experience changed over time? Thirdly, how has Traveller women’s home experience changed over time? Fourthly, how do Traveller women experience these different spaces? Fifthly, how do different contexts impact the choice of behaviour and/or response? Finally, how is education shifting Traveller identities?
Following Magyari-Vincze (2006, p. 6) this presentation recognises the complex intersections of different social process and locations for Traveller women including, gender, ethnicity and class, family, education, nationhood, peer group, generation / life stage, nomadic practice, and minority / state relations.
AITHS (2010) All Ireland Traveller Health Study: Our Geels. All Ireland Traveller Health Study Team School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin.
DCYA (2014) Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the national policy framework for children and young people 2014-2020, Dublin: Stationery Office.
Department of the Taoiseach (2006) Towards 2016: ten-year framework social partnership agreement 2006–2015, Dublin: Stationery Office.
European Commission (2012) Europe 2020 in Ireland.
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