Pilot Youth Program “Bulgaria – It’s also me”
Current situatuion and main challenges
The involvement of young people in public and civil sectors is an integral part of the overall development of democratic societies and poses the question of effective exercising of civil, political and cultural rights and of citizenship as a whole, and European citizenship in particular.
Special attention in facilitating the above outlined process should be paid to the group of girls and young women. In Bulgaria this group needs special measures in order to be involved and empowered to participate actively in public life; to know their rights; to establish a culture of understanding that they need knowledge and skills to participate competently in decision-making processes that affect their daily lives.
Since 1989 – the outburst of democratic social change – Bulgaria has been waiting for consistent and adequate national youth policy and effective mechanisms to involve young people in public life. In the middle of 2007 there is still no functioning national structure – National youth council – which should work towards young Bulgarians’ involvement in decision-making processes that affect their daily lives. There is no special law and legal provisions regulating youth activities and access to sufficient resources.
At present, Bulgaria still lacks a state policy aimed at stimulating girls and young women to participate actively in decision-making processes. The lack of such policy is due to the fact that women do not realize their actual problems and cannot define clearly the discrimination they are faced with. The unawareness of gender discrimination, to which women are victims, is a result of the poor knowledge of basic human rights and the insufficient involvement of women in decision-making processes which affect their personal and professional lives.
In Bulgaria there still are certain spheres of life, such as politics and business, where women are oppressed rather than encouraged to develop their potential. Traditionally, in these spheres the decision-making positions are occupied by men, while women are allowed to enter only those levels of the hierarchic structure that require merely executive functions.
With the implementation of the Program “Bulgaria – It’s Also Me!”, BFW is working towards overcoming public attitudes and stereotypes that place young women and girls in dependent and vulnerable positions; it also acts towards changing young women and girls’ own attitudes and strives to stimulate them to participate actively in decision-making processes, to struggle against oppressive practices and to take leadership in public life.
One of the major goals of the Program “Bulgaria – It’s Also Me!” is to develop young women and girls’ leadership skills, to unfold their true potential and consequently the target group to take active participation in mentorship programs and to contribute to the development of other young women and girls. In this way, the program affects directly the negative public attitudes towards women, challenges stereotype thinking and young women and girls become motivated to work for the improvement of women’s public and political roles.
Strategy for achieving our goal
The strategy of the pilot Youth Program “Bularia – It’s Also Me!” was to emphasize on the challenges confronting Bulgarian girls and young women aged between 16-25 and 16 -35 through:
– Well structured small NGOs projects focused on identification of the specific problems of the target group and building their capacity for effective actions in: women’s rights as human rights; gender-based violence; leadership skills development; career guidance and counseling; networking; HIV/AIDS prevention; sexual rights; reproductive rights; positive role modeling.
– Outlining the future steps needed for adequate youth policy development on local, regional and national levels;
– Uniting the efforts and resources of BFW, women’s groups and media for mitigating all the negative factors that constrain Bulgarian young people’s ability to access opportunities and rights to become active citizens.
Young women between 16 – 35 years old.