The Seventh Annual Meeting of non-governmental organizations, working on women’s, gender and equal opportunities issues was held from May 12th to 14th, 2005 in Sofia. This year the topic of the Meeting was: 10 years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The main goal for this Annual Meeting was defined by the significance of 2005 as a year of strategic impact for the global women’s movement. The Annual Meeting was dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women and the in-depth review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, which were among the main issues discussed by scholars and experts from the non-governmental sector. The agenda also focused on the 5th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals and the Bulgarian Plan for their implementation.
The Meeting was officially opened by Mr. Atanas Gochev, Member of the Board of the Center of Women’s Studies and Policies Foundation (CWSP). Welcoming speeches were given by Mr. Luchezar Toshev, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Religious Affairs, Mr. Kemal Eup, Chair of the Commission on Protection against Discrimination, Mr. Lalko Dulevski, Chair of the Economic and Social Council and Mrs. Juliana Nikolova, Director of the European Institute and Member of the Board of the Open Sociaty Institute. Mrs. Lily Abadjieva, Head of the Equal Opportunities for Women and Men Sector at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy addressed the participants on behalf of Mrs. Hristina Hristova, Minister of Labour and Social Policy and Head of the National Council on Equality between Women and Men at the Council of Ministers. Congratulation to the participants and the organizers were sent by Mrs.Ginyo Ganev, Parliamentary Ombudsman, by the members of the National Council on Equality between Women and Men at the Council of Ministers, by Mrs. Manoela Georgieva, Deputy Minister of the Environment and Water, Mr. Petko Draganov, Deputy Minister of the Foreign Affairs, etc.
As a part of the conference the Annual National Media Completion on presenting gender equality issues in printed and electronic media in Bulgaria, organized for the fourth time by the Center of Women’s Studies and Policies and the Media Development Center, were awarded. The prizes in 4 categories were presented by Prolet Velkova, the Chair of the committee. Rumyana Emanuilidu was awarded first prize in the section National Media for her article Sex-trafficking of Bulgarian women reaches London and Ivan Panchev received an encouraging award for his series of articles on the quota in schools published in Telegraph Newspaper. Two additional prizes were given to Janina Dragostinova for her article Apolitical. The romantic Englishwomen in Bulgaria and Nadelina Aneva for her article Women’s speedways in the Parliament. In the section Regional Media was awarded only a special prize to a team of 3 members from the Public TV in Plovdiv – Evgeniy Todorov, Petko Shoylekov and Mariyana Kirezieva for their original script The courage to be a witness.
More than 100 guests and participants, representatives of the non-governmental sector, engaged with women’s issues, media, institutions and local authorities were presented with the overview of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in the world (Iliana Stoycheva, Jivka Marinova and Ekaterina Popova) and in Bulgaria (Tatyana Kmetova, Magdanela Delinesheva and Gergana Ilieva). Special interest was paid to the presentation of Marta Dyavolova on the UN Millennium Development Goals and the specific aims, defined for Bulgaria, which focused on topical research and statistical data, illustrating problems such as demographic development, education, health services, etc. The National Plan for Action for 2005 designed to promote equality between women and men was presented by Lily Abadjieva, Head of the Equal Opportunities for Women and Men Sector at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Secretary of the National Council on Equality between Women and Men at the Council of Ministers.
The promotion of women’s participation in politics and decision-making process was discussed in a separate panel prepared by the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation. A special guest in the panel was the Member of Parliament Mrs Marina Dikova, who was personally involved with preparation and submission of the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence.
The Participants in the Meeting discussed and made new proposals to the recommendations, prepared by the CWSP’s experts on the basis of their researches, conducted in the framework of the Gender Equality Monitoring Agency from 2003 to 2005. A decision was taken that the recommendations addressing concrete and short-time commitments on the part of the executive power and other governmental structures should be officially submitted on behalf of the participants in the Annual Meeting to the National Council on Equality between Women and Men at the Council of Ministers, to the Economic and Social Council, to the Commission on the Protection against Discrimination, to the Head of the Equal Opportunities for Women and Men Sector at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in June 2005.
As a tradition the Annual Meeting was closed with a roundtable, which each year is dedicated to a topical issue connected with the work of the non-governmental sector, working on gender equality and women’s issues. This year the topic of the discussion was Overcoming the stereotypes for the roles of women and men in public and private life through the educational system. Further discussions and comments were roused by the presentations of the representatives of the Consultative Center for Antidiscrimination Evaluation of the Textbooks (Lea Davcheva, Svoboda Gagarova and Milena Kacarska) and by the Bulgarian Association of University Women (Krassimira Daskalova and Jorjeta Nazurska). The historic overview of the access of women to higher education and academic carrier enriched the participants with interesting facts. The participants supported the proposal for establishing a fond for the preparation and publishing of an Encyclopedia 100 most influential women in the cultural and social history of Bulgaria.
In its capacity of a foundation that actively has provided with information, organization, consulting and financial support the work of the Non-Governmental organizations in Bulgaria engaged with women’s issues, and has the organizational and financial capacity of realizing such a responsibility, CWSP addressed an invitation for partnership to the organizations with whom a relationships of good partnership has been established throughout the years. Thus CWSP proposed to its long-term partner NGOs to represent them in the National Council of equality between women and men at the Council of Ministers.
The participants in the National Annual Meeting supported the CWSP’s initiative for setting up of an electronic group for discussions Sreshta (Meeting), which has the ambition to provide space for an exchange of ideas and information between NGOs, public figures and institutions from the whole country working with women’s issues for the first time in Bulgaria. The electronic group is a logical continuation of the Annual Meeting of women’s NGOs in Bulgaria and presents an opening for an everyday communication abd cooperation online.
These suggestions for future joint initiatives were defined as an undoubted success of the Annual Meeting. The event continues to be the most important annual initiative of NGOs, activists and experts from the whole country, who work on equality between women and men and women’s issues. It is a place and time where ideas and experience are exchanged and decisions for future joint actions are made.