NEW DEADLINE I “Breath of Fresh Air”, BFW’s New Program

  •  February 10, 2022
  • Around 90 per cent of people go through their daily lives breathing harmful polluted air, which has been described by the United Nations as the most important health issue of our time. New research has found that air pollution is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, far surpassing smoking, malaria, and other significant factors.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that Bulgaria has the third highest mortality rate (per 100.000 population) from air pollution in the world, after North Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina, eating up the equivalent of 29.5% of the country’s GDP through reduced productivity and costs of treating the diseases caused.
  • Air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body, according to a comprehensive new global review. The research shows head-to-toe harm, from heart and lung disease to diabetes and dementia, and from liver problems and bladder cancer to brittle bones and damaged skin. Fertility, foetuses and children are also affected by toxic air, the review found.

The Bulgarian Women’s Fund invites women activists, informal collectives and organizations interested in working for our right to breathe clean air to join the new Breath of Fresh Air program. It aims to stimulate civic activism, especially of women and vulnerable groups who are most affected by dirty air and climate change, to increase participants’ knowledge about the consequences of poor air quality, and to mobilize local communities to tackle the problem at the local level.

BFW’s program consists of a theoretical and a practical component, with the first stage taking participants through a four-day training to learn about the impacts of air pollution on health, the economy, climate and well-being, with a focus on the negative impacts on women, children and vulnerable groups; major sources of pollution and international best practices from the civil sector; data, legislation and advocacy opportunities; tactics to mobilize a network of supporters and raise awareness of the issue, and more. In the second stage, participants will have the opportunity to apply for financial support from BFW to implement awareness-raising, monitoring, advocacy initiatives or strategies for community mobilization and participation in local and national decision-making processes on air quality issues.

Although Bulgaria has one of the worst air pollution problems in the EU, public awareness and support for concrete solutions remain low, especially in low-income, disadvantaged and rural communities. One of the most worrying impacts of air pollution is the harm it causes to reproduction and children: it reduces fertility, increases miscarriages, damages embryos and is strongly associated with low-birth-weight babies, which has lifelong health consequences.

While there is much talk in Bulgaria about ‘family values’, people are largely unaware of the harmful effects of air pollution and how long-term exposure affects their health and the health of their children – misinformation and lack of real-time data hinder public mobilization.

At the same time, women, who are particularly affected by the air pollution because of their roles as carriers and priority caregivers of children, can be powerful agents for change in their homes and communities.

In Bulgaria, there is a long tradition of women concerned about the health of their families leading protests about air quality since the first protests in Rousse in 1987.

How to get involved?


Due to the epidemiological situation, we had to cancel the training we had planned for February 2022. We will announce the new dates of the competition as well as the dates for the training very soon. Keep an eye on our news page. In the meantime, the application form remains open and you can send your applications until Monday 28 February 2022.

To get involved in the BFW program, apply to attend the four-day Clean Air Academy Training (exact dates will be confirmed further with approved participants and tailored to the epidemic situation related to the spread of Covid-19).

Who can join the training?

The training and program are open to all who are interested in working for our right to breathe clean air – individual activists (16+, no formal affiliation with a civil society organization/collective required), informal collectives and organizations (no previous experience with projects on the topic required).

The following candidates will have priority in the application process:

  • Women applicants (especially mothers from vulnerable groups and rural areas).
  • Applicants with innovative campaign ideas and messages focusing on children’s health and mothers’ rights in the fight against air pollution.
  • Environmental associations and organizations focusing on intersectional rights of women and children and air quality.
  • Representatives from localities with poor air quality where awareness remains low (Stara Zagora, Vratsa, Devnya, Lovech, Vidin, Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Shumen, Pernik, etc.).
  • Female-led Organizations/collectives.

How to apply?

Please fill in the following form – the “Breath of Fresh Air” application form (in Bulgarian).


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We wish you good luck!

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