28 November 2005
Women's Participation in Politics and Decision Making was the topic of a roundtable, dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. The event took place in Alexander Hall, Radisson SAS Hotel.
The opening speech was delivered by Mr. Neil Buhne, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bulgaria. Ms. Tatyana Kmetova, Executive Director of CWSP, made an overview of commitments of the state to the Beijing Platform and the Millennium Development Goals for women’s participation in politics and decision making, and other international instruments for protection of women’s human rights like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women – CEDAW (1997), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(1966), the Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1952) regarding to which Bulgaria is required to submit periodic Government Reports detailing the compliance and implementation of international conventions.
Ms. Katia Hristova-Valtcheva, member of the Board of CWSP, and lecturer in political science at New Bulgarian University, presented the trends of women’s participation in the last Parliamentary Elections in 2005). Although there is a positive trend – the share of women members of Parliament has doubled for the period 2001-2005, the balanced participation of 40% is still a distant goal and is not included in the programs of most political parties.
Women’s participation in local elections and in the process of development of local and regional policies was discussed by Ms. Teodora Kaleynska, Director of the European Information Center, Veliko Turnovo and lecturer in political science at Veliko Turnovo University. Women’s representation in local governance is still very low. Only 8% of the mayors of municipalities in Bulgaria are women. This percentage is higher as far as the smaller for the mayors of mayoralties, i.e. the smaller the administrative unit, the bigger number of women in the executive. The percentage of women municipal councilors has marked a slight increase – from the 22,6% after the local elections in 1999 to 22,5% in 2003. The election campaign programs of women candidates do not reflect any women’s issues and even the word “woman” is hardly seen.
In the discussion, moderated by Ms. Roumyana Kolarova, lecturer in political science at Sofia University, took part Ms. Ekaterina Mihailova, Member of Parliament from the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, Ms. Marta Diavolova, UNFPA Programme Officer, UN SDU, Ms. Stanimira Hadjimitova, Bulgarian Fund for Women, Ms. Sevdalina Voinova, who presented the Win With Women Global Initiative of the NDI Bulgaria, Ms. Nedyalka Videva, the Gender Studies Center at the Sofia University Faculty of Philosophy, Ms. Pavlina Filipova, Women’s Alliance for Development, Ms. Kalinka Slivkova, Gender Project for Bulgaria Foundation. The participants discussed the suggestions for legislative changes of the Bulgarian Center for Gender Research, which were presented by Ms. Teodora Tsanovska. Mr. Svetoslav Malinov, Member of Parliament from the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, put the question for the necessity of a Law on Equal Opportunities and invited the non-governmental organizations to participate in the review and update of the Bill on Equal Opportunities.
The event was organized by the Center of Women’s Studies and Policies with the financial support of the United Nations Resident Coordination in Bulgaria. Over 50 representatives of political parties and coalitions, members of Parliament, the executive, non-governmental organizations, political scientists, sociologists, gender experts participated in the Roundtable.