Romani women2 in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) face enormous challenges. Their experiences of intertwined forms of racial and gender discrimination demonstrate in which ways structures of social domination and subordination intersect in everyday lives. Such structural patterns do not have an impact independently of each other: they cross social boundaries and reach from the public well into the private sphere. It is the complexity of the experiences of Romani women that is the subject of this chapter. These experiences are also the source of Romani women’s activism, which addresses persistent inequalities and patterns of subordination within their own communities as well as within the societies of CEE where the majority of them live.3 This chapter contributes to discussions on politics of difference, intersectionality and activism at intersections as they arise from the experiences of Romani women. As the Joint Statement of European Roma Women Activists points out, not

one single definition of a ‘true’ Romani woman exists. In fact, there does not exist a single definition of a ‘true’ or ‘authentic’ woman: this term fails to be exclusive as, ‘if one “is” a woman, that is surely not all one is’ (Butler 1990, 3). However, women are as a matter of course and subconsciously identified and addressed as being ‘women’—by their neighbours, siblings, colleagues or the police. Women who are recognized as Romani are confronted with the repercussions of stereotypes such as those in the quotations above. Even if there is no single definition of a Romani woman as such, there are, none the less, their distinct experiences of what it means to be perceived as being a Romni by non-Roma as well as by their fellow Roma. Every Romani woman may define her identity in a different way by emphasizing different aspects of culture and

heritage, social status or activism. However, in doing so she simultaneously positions herself within collective understandings of what it means to be a Romni.4