Let’s welcome the New 2021 with Solidarity, Compassion and Strength
Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones. But no, Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. “Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts”, Mead said more than 50 years ago.
In 2020, all of us as humanity faced an incredible challenge – a pandemic that has already claimed millions of lives and spared no country or community.
However, countless signs of empathy and mutual concern gave courage and hope, saved lives, offered relief, and united communities to move forward. Today we have realized that it is our ability to be united and act together that will be crucial in dealing with this challenge for the achievement of better tomorrow for the world and for each of us.
What 2020 teaches us, it is that we are all communicating vessels that cannot be well if our neighbors, colleagues and even competitors are not well. Because it is becoming increasingly clear that what humanity will fight for in 2021 will be collective immunity – literally and figuratively.
As early as March, when we first realized the scale of the changes that awaited us, we addressed our community with deep concern and confidence that our work will not only not stop, but we will make twice as much effort to uphold our values, to fulfill the commitments already made in the best way, and to fully meet with you and your needs. In this challenging time, we need more than ever solidarity, individual and collective care and social justice in order to overcome the systemic inequalities that are increasingly visible in a crisis situation. Now, 9 months later, we continue to stand behind this message and work to preserve and expand our community.
2020 was a difficult year for us at BFW and for our community as well. Many of us as individuals, as organizations, and as leaders in their groups have suffered great losses, deprivation, pressure, or lack of support. However, this did not discourage us, but made us work more diligently and listen more carefully to the needs of the people and organizations we have set ourselves as a mission to support.
This was the year that challenged us to adapt and be more flexible than ever to be able to implement all of the planned initiatives. We have also dared to embark on entirely new projects aimed at preserving and strengthening our community. As a sign of solidarity with the needs of people and organizations, we managed to successfully complete the following programs, initiatives and campaigns:
- Emergency Fund for Combating Domestic Violence – even with the introduction of the first lockdown we realized how big the problem is and at the end of May we announced the start of the initiative, which for a little over a month managed to raise BGN 73,192 from individual and corporate donors. The funds were promptly distributed to 14 organizations working on the front line with victims of domestic violence and their children. Hundreds of women victims of violence, also received humanitarian support in the form of food, medicine, protective equipment and vouchers. See the stories of salvation and protection here.
- Call for support of girls and young women 2020– The focus of this program is on empowering young women to develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills, to continue their education and to overcome inequalities. 42 organizations applied with a total of 44 projects. Of these 44, 14 proposals were approved, and the total value of funding that BFW granted was BGN 69,870. The projects are currently being implemented in 16 towns or villages in the country and are changing the lives and environment of hundreds of young women for the better, even in times of crisis.
- Feminist Boot Camp 2020 – In July we gathered 17 girls and young women from 12 places in Bulgaria, in an intensive 5-day training, where they had the opportunity to gain knowledge about the history of the women’s movement in Bulgaria, current issues for women, gender and human rights. After the end of the camp, BFW held a contest in which four very exciting projects were approved. You can meet with them by hearing the first podcast about women in politics Polifemme, to meet a “Fighting Mother” from Varna, who is determined to make life easier for pregnant women, to learn more about the women’s society “Poprelki” in the village of Chepintsi, and soon we will talk about why some of the most important jobs and labor sectors of society are the lowest paid, when we get acquainted with the “Big Job (Deal)” project.
- National Information Campaign for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Support Services – The project, funded by the Ministry of Justice, was implemented by BFW from June to October 2020. In addition to an awareness campaign on social media aimed at prevention, BFW provided support services – 40 individual online consultations (psychological and legal) for victims of domestic violence and perpetrators of domestic violence and organized four specialized online meetings (webinars) with the participation of experts to raise awareness and to provide advice on how to break the cycle of violence.
- Community Development Program – In 2020, the program supported community leaders and active people from all over the country in their efforts to unite and mobilize their communities, to organize initiatives related to the unification of citizens for a better social environment and the promotion and inclusion of women in community development. In this way, citizens participate in solving societal problems left out of state support. In the first stage of the BFW program, the participants attended a two-day training, and in the second – the approved 20 out of a total of 97 candidates, received scholarships to support their communities and implement their ideas.
- Equal.bg Civic Union – This year the informal coalition continued to unite 28 civil society organizations that believe in democratic values and work in the fields of human rights protection, vulnerable groups, sustainable development, advocacy and in response to attacks on the civil society sector and the shrinking space for its work. This year we managed to implement the communication campaign # It depends on us, in which all 28 organizations of the coalition joined on topics related to nature and environment protection, media freedom, healthcare, human rights, education, protection of children, adults and other vulnerable groups.
- Fund for Artistic projects by female artists– 107 conceptual projects of over 100 authors and groups from all over Bulgaria, as well as some living abroad, 9 funded works, supported with BGN 30,000, an exhibition in three galleries in Sofia, over 100 media appearances and publications, nomination for the 63rd International DOK Leipzig Festival of Veneta Androva, Albena Baeva won a residence in the Mutek Montreal AI Art Lab, opening of the first “Museum of Women – Alla Georgieva’s Collection” in partnership with the National Gallery. These are just some of the figures with which we can describe the impact of the Fund for Art projects by female artists, established in 2017 in order to combat the under-representation of women in the professional art and cultural sector, to give visibility to women’s creativity and increase their access to financial resources.
- Campaign for combatting violence against women – On the occasion of November 25 – the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 Days of Activism against Violence, BFW released the album “Eternal Hits of Bulgaria” and its vinyl edition. It includes 11 monologues by abusers against their victims that illustrate the various forms of harassment. The vinyl records were handed out to all responsible institutions, and the campaign continued on social media with huge reach and media coverage. Our advocacy actions included a meeting with the Vice President Iliana Yotova, participation in a protest flash mob in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and organizing a webinar “Domestic violence and violence against women: possible solutions” with the participation of the Ombudsperson of Bulgaria Diana Kovacheva and H.E Dr. Rob Dixon – British Ambassador to Bulgaria, as well as other prominent experts.
- Core Funding Procedure for financing the organizational and administrative needs of organizations – In fulfillment of our mission to support and develop the women’s movement in Bulgaria and to promote sustainable social change, leading to the achievement of gender equality, BFW announced for the first time a procedure for financing the organizational and administrative needs (core funding) of organizations working for women’s rights in order to improve their financial sustainability, capacity, strategic planning skills and ability to measure the impact of their activities. At the end of 2020, 5 organizations were approved and financed with a total of BGN 173,000 for their organizational sustainability and development.
Having in mind all that we did together during the year, we look forward to the future, believing in our strength and potential. That is why, for us form the BFW, the three words of 2021 are Solidarity, Compassion and Strength.
Now it is the time to express our sincere gratitude to all of you, with whom we were together during this difficult, but inspiring journey.
We thank our donors: Global Fund for Women, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Civitates, OSF, Global Fund for Community Foundations, Mama Cash, Filia die frauenstiftung, OAK Foundation, Prospera, Friedrich Ebert Foundation – Bureau Bulgaria, “Lachezar Tsotsorkov” Foundation.
We thank our corporate donors and sponsors: Biersdorf / NIVEA, Easy Pay, Experian Bulgaria, Melon, Progress SW, Dove Bulgaria, Avon Cosmetics Bulgaria, Ficosota, Philip Morris Bulgaria, DraftKings, Power Pops, VivaCom, Takeaway, Skrin and Clichḗ.
We thank the hundreds of individual donors who believe in our cause and support it financially!
We also thank our partners: Bulgarian Donors’ Forum, BCause Foundation, Ministry of Justice, National Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia, Credo Bonum Gallery, Doza Gallery, horizontal team “Feminist Mobilizations”, the Embassies of Switzerland and United Kingdom in Sofia, the companies Microsoft, IBM and many others.
We thank the people and organizations that supported our projects and campaigns: communication agencies Ogilvy Sofia and Direct Media KRES, artistic partners Kaloyan Dimitrov (music, studio and director of the album “Eternal Hits of Bulgaria”), Iva Papazova (casting), actors Galin Naidenov, Stoyan Pepelanov, Nikola Kutsev, Vasil Draganov, Nikola Parashkevov, Alexander Evgeniev (voices who recorded the hits from the album), Maria Donchevska (design and creative concept), Vera Gotseva – Lomovera (photography), Dukyan Meloman, IDEA Comm (outdoor advertising).
We thank our media partners: Darik Radio, Marginalia, Club Z, Offnews, Girls from the City, Maiko Mila, The Woman of Today magazine, Dnevnik, BG-Mamma.
We thank the whole community that keeps the women’s movement alive in Bulgaria and around the world! We thank each of you personally for being with us as we do good.
And don’t forget: Better days are coming because we are together!
The BFW team: Nadejda, Gergana, Teodora, Rada, Svetlana, Mira, Sasha, Denitsa
Board of Trustees of BFW: Vanya, Denitsa, Stanimira
Design: Maria Donchevska