Margareta (Magda) Matache is a Roma rights activist from Romania. In 2012, she was awarded a Houser Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.
For over a decade, Magda has been a powerful voice of the Roma in various grass-root, national and international contexts. Her views on the Roma plight have been captured and conveyed throughout the world by credible sources, such as The Time, Financial Time, BBC, EuroNews, Le Monde, Le Figaro, as well as by national media in Romania.
From 2005 to 2012, Margareta Matache was the Executive Director of Romani CRISS (www.romanicriss.org), a leading Roma NGO that defends and promotes the rights of Roma. During her mandate, Romani CRISS took a stand against discrimination in landmark cases targeting the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister of Romania at that time. Their advocacy and litigation efforts have also contributed to the approval of the domestic School Desegregation Bill.
Previously, she served as a youth worker and trainer on cultural diversity and minority rights using non-formal education tools, and cooperating with Council of Europe Youth Program. She has also worked as an election observer for missions in Western Balkans, and she implemented well known European projects, including “Roma and the Stability Pact in South-Eastern Europe” and “Roma use your ballot wisely,” for the OSCE/ODIHR.
She completed her doctoral research work in early childhood development of Romani children at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Bucharest and holds a Master’s degree in European Social Policies.
Her publications and research have ranged over the rights, agency, and social ecology of Romani children and adolescents; early childhood development; Romani women; anti-Roma violence; and segregation in education.
Magda’s Roma identity:
“I grew up near Bucharest, surrounded by very few Roma families and friends, extensively exposed mostly to the Romanian culture. I started to become aware of my ethnic identity immediately after the Romanian Revolution, when my father became one of the first activists involved in the start up of the so called “Roma movement” in ’90s. In the activists’ environment, I learned about my heritage, but also about the inter-ethnic conflicts and anti-Roma violence that occurred in Romania. Being a Roma is an important part of my personal identity puzzle that sometimes becomes the center of it, other times it becomes vague, narrow due to the heritage losses of my ancestors, of myself.”