The state policy on gender equality in Bulgaria falls under the responsibilities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy since 2000.
Currently, it is the Equal Opportunities Department within the Demographic Policy, Social Investments and Equal Opportunities Market Directorate, which organizes, develops and coordinates the implementation of the state policy in these fields.
The coordination and collaboration between the governmental bodies and the non-governmental sector regarding gender equality issues is achieved through the consultative National Council on Equality between Women and Men. It develops the state policy on gender equality and works for the promotion of gender equality as a part of the State policy by putting special emphasis is put on the implementation of gender mainstreaming in policy making in all sectors. The state policy should guarantee prevention and elimination of gender-based discrimination, equal access to the labour market and economic activities, appropriate measures for reconciliation of work and family life. Education and health care, especially reproductive health, are areas of special concern as well as combating domestic violence and trafficking in human beings.
The activities, which focus on updating the Ministries' priorities, according to the main priorities of the Government, are set out in the annual National Action Plans for Promotion of Gender Equality (since 2005). They are directed towards the whole society and encourage equality in decision making, awareness raising and elimination of gender stereotypes for the roles of women and men.
The measures of the state addressing gender equality in the labour market are included in the National Action Plans on Employment (since 2001), developed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and adopted by the Council of Ministers. They include a separate section on promotion of equal opportunities for women and men. In this aspect, the National Action Plan for Employment for the last four years expresses the state policy, which introduces several consistent and special measures for encouraging the participation of women in the labor market, reconciliation of work and family life etc. The established in 2003 Consultative Commission on Equal Opportunities to the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, provides consultancy the Ministry in the development of these policies.
Although significant progress has been made for creating and ensuring equal opportunities for women and men, there is still no separate national strategy dealing with equality between women and men. This puts all elements of the equal opportunities mechanism in a negative perspective. It leads to lack of coordination of the state authorities dealing with gender issues, lack of clear understanding on the distribution of the functions among them and delay in the establishment of the institutions provided for in the legislation. The lack of separate national strategy and plan on the equality between women and men results in lack of specific detailed list of the needed adequate legislative acts to be adopted.
Last update: 22.02.2007