Grant #436

Romani Herstory

February 1, 2021

If You’ve Heard Of Gypsies But Haven’t Heard Of The Romani, Guess What?

Émilie Herbert-Pontonnier wants you to know that stereotypes of fortunetellers and beggars are as inappropriate in 2021 as a sports team called the Redskins. To document the history of the people you may know as “gypsies,” she has created The Romani Womxn Digital Archives. Expanding on the content of the @romani.herstory Instagram account, unsung heroines and trailblazers who refuse to conform to stereotypes get their due.

“Romani women are an essential part of modern societies,” says Émilie. “As citizens, artists, scientists, writers or activists, Romani women have made their mark in the arts, politics, STEM, and fashion. We are not suffering from a lack of positive role models; we are suffering from a lack of visibility!” The @romani.herstory account features over 80 biographies, including Panna Cinka, an 18th-century Hungarian violinist, Swedish politician and human rights activist Soraya Post, and the extraordinary 19th-century wild beast tamer Ellen Chapman (aka “Madame Pauline De Verre, the Lady of the Lions”).

Émilie will use the Awesome Without Borders grant to underwrite web hosting for website development to create a reference platform and an educational tool. Emilie aims to create a definitive repository of truth about Romani women in all their diversity of age, nationality, social class, professional occupation or sexual/gender expression.

We’re thinking back on all the cultural insults perpetrated against these people in times when we just didn’t know any better. We’re humbled to help Émilie make sure everybody knows better. Meet the women here.

Category: Activism, Community, Culture, Education, Preservation, Women



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders