EU Parliament candidate, key experts and civil society leaders meet at BFW’s Women’s Rights Forum 2019

  •  May 3, 2019

For a second consecutive year the Bulgarian Fund for Women, in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation created a platform for dialogue between politicians, key experts and representatives of some of the most active civic organizations, working on issues of equality and violence against women. The event took place on April 17th in the town of Bankya and was the closing part of the three-day Annual Meeting of the BFW’s community.

Elena Yoncheva  – an MP in the 44th Bulgarian National Assembly and a candidate for the EU Parliament, Zaritsa Georgieva – International Coordinator of the Bulgarian Greens Political Party, Irina Ivanova – Head of Equal Opportunities, Antidiscrimination and Social Assistance at the MLSP, Penka Stoyanova – Inspector i General Directorate “National Police”, National Coordinator on the Topics of Domestic Violence in the Ministry of Interior, and Dobryana Petkova – Chief Expert at the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings accepted BFW’s invitation to discuss current problems women and girls are facing in Bulgaria and to hear potential solutions.

They met with representatives of nearly 30 civil organizations from 10 cities in Bulgaria and discussed how to improve the interaction between the state and the civil sector in order to more effectively implement policies to eradicate violence against women and to intensify the process of achieving real equality of the sexes.

Helene Kortlander, Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bulgaria’s office, opened the Forum emphasizing the worsening international context in which religious fundamentalists and extreme right nationalists subject the rights of women and LGBTI people to a systemic attack, and we are already seeing a significant regress in terms of equality and diversity.

Elena Yoncheva focused on the problem of poverty in Bulgaria and the lack of education as one of the main reasons for the economic dependence of women. According to her, these problems can be overcome through youth employment and encouraging female entrepreneurs.

Zaritsa Georgieva  talked about the importance of equal rights and quotas in politics. According to her, “patriarchization” of society is a major obstacle to the realization of women in managerial positions.” She shared the good practice of the Greens Political Party, thanks to which their leading candidates for the European elections were elected on the basis of gender equality

According to Irina Ivanova, equality is a prerequisite for the successful implementation and development of policies in all sectors. Although Bulgaria is still below the average level of the gender equality index compared to Western Europe, Irina Ivanova noted that our country has made some progress in recent years.

Penka Stoyanova discussed the lack of official statistics on domestic violence and  announced that this year the Ministry of Interior has finally launched the construction of an information system on the topic. She pointed out that some areas of Bulgaria lack services for the victims of violence because there are no local NGOs working on these issues. Moreover,  she added that civil society expertise is increasingly needed by state institutions to provide quality services.

Dobryana Petkova summarized that economic dependence, violence and the lack of education among women play huge role in being lured into human trafficking, whose victims are predominantly women.

Several other important issues have been addressed, such as the lack of modern maternity care and standards, the large number of uninsured pregnant women, insufficient social services to support working parents, the controversial efficiency of the legislative changes adopted in the Criminal Code, domestic violence, the pay gap gender and the feminization of poverty, the limited participation of women in peace negotiations, the problems of refugee women,

The Bulgarian Fund for Women thanks the Friedrich Ebert Foundation for the confidence and indispensable support and for supporting the Annual Meeting of the BFW and the Women’s Rights Forum for the second consecutive year!

Photo: Bulgarian Fund for Women

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