Agnes Osztolykan, the first Roma female to be elected to Parliament in Hungary, visited with UC experts on Tuesday, March 15 to discuss Affirmative Action in Education. Ms. Osztolykan is one of the mere one percent of Hungarian Roma who complete university studies. She was elected to Parliament in 2010 representing the party Politics Can Be Different which was founded on the idea of breaking free from the traditional system of politics and fighting for values that truly matter. Ms. Osztolykan speaks out for Roma in the face of open hostility, fearlessly advocating for the equal rights and inclusion of Roma in Hungarian society. As Deputy Chair of the Education Committee, she is committed to ensuring that Roma inclusion is a priority of government programming. Outside government, she is also a strong promoter of civil society in Hungary – pushing for better education and opportunities for Roma children. Ms. Osztolykan volunteers in a primary school with a high percentage of Roma students.
For centuries the Romani people have been socially marginalized due to differences in languages and culture. An often overlooked part of the atrocities of the Third Reich included the targeting of the Romani. Hitler’s campaign of genocide resulted in the deaths of one quarter to one half of the Romani population. They were deported and gassed at Auschwitz and Treblinka.
Even today, Ms. Osztolykan confronts discrimination on a daily basis. Nevertheless, she remains a vocal and non-partisan defender of Roma rights and a proud proponent of Roma culture. Learn more about Romani society and culture on Wikipedia.
Ms. Agnes Osztolykan is a recipient of the International Women of Courage Award. This is the only award within the Department of State that pays tribute to outstanding women leaders worldwide. She is also a participant on the International Visitor Leadership Program, the government’s premier professional exchange program, connecting current and emerging foreign leaders with their American counterparts through short-term programs that foster greater coordination, communication, and collaboration in fields affecting social, political, cultural, economic, and educational developments in societies around the globe. Learn more about this program at exchanges.state.gov/ivlp/.
Ms. Osztolykan's visit to UC was sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council.