The Cause for Cleaner Air Brought Together 25 Activists and Local Leaders from 14 Regions
Between 11 and 14 May in Veliko Tarnovo, was held the first of its kind in Bulgaria training “Clean Air Academy”. It marked the beginning of the Bulgarian Fund for Women’s “A Breath of Fresh Air” program and brought together 25 activists and local community leaders from 14 small and large towns, villages and cities, involved in the topics of air quality and climate change.
The Academy allowed the participants to gain experience from the best experts in air quality and to enrich their knowledge of its impact on various areas of our lives.
Dr Ivanka Kyolieva and Dr Mihail Mihailov, MD from “Air for Health” Association stressed the seriousness of the health effects of polluted air on women, children and vulnerable groups – asthma and cough in children; infertility, miscarriages, premature births in women; diabetes, dementia and many others affecting our whole society.
Ivaylo Popov from the Environmental Association “For the Earth” informed the participants about the main sources of pollution, the challenges of limiting them and the good examples from the civil sector in this direction.
Hristiana Georgieva, a lawyer at the Environmental Association “For the Earth”, gave us guidelines and examples on how to defend our right to breathe clean air through the means of law. She also presented data and research on the state of the air and the sources where to find them.
Madeleine Popignatova, a member of the Dutch feminist movement, told us about the efforts invested by women activists in fighting for clean air on an international and national level, including the 1987 protests against polluted air by women in the city of Ruse, Bulgaria.
Violina Zhelyazkova from the creative agency Purpose presented examples and guidelines for the implementation of successful social impact campaigns.
Rumyana Boyanova from “For the Earth” introduced the participants to the opportunities for advocacy for clean air. Existing groups and good practices for mobilizing a network of supporters and promoting the issue were also discussed.
The training’s facilitator was Vladislav Petkov, lawyer and anthropologist by education, expert, trainer and activist. He shared with the attendees his rich practical experience in organizing and mobilizing communities.
Participants had the opportunity to share with everyone about their current efforts and future ideas on clean air, thus deepening their understanding of the problems and increasing each other’s sensitivity regarding the problem. They exchanged experiences and received feedback and advice from the speakers and other participants.
“I have been working in the field of women’s rights for many years and I have been to many trainings. This is one of the most meaningful ones that I have ever visited. It allowed me to familiarize myself with topics beyond those that I have worked on so far”- said a participant in the Academy.
The end of the “Clean Air Academy”, will be followed by the second stage of our “A Breath of Fresh Air”; program. All participants in the training have the opportunity to apply for funding up to BGN 1, 600 from BFW, which will allow them to use their newly gained knowledge and implement their project ideas on improving the quality of air.
The program is implemented with the financial support of the Clean Air Fund.
BFW’s “A Breath of Fresh Air” program aims to stimulate civic activism, especially for women and vulnerable groups that are most affected by polluted air, to raise awareness of the consequences of poor air quality and mobilize local communities to deal with the problem.