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HomeProjectsProjects 2007Project: "Gender Dimension of the Pension Reform in Bulgaria"

Project: "Gender Dimension of the Pension Reform in Bulgaria"
Key findings

  • At present, we still lack in Bulgaria a special gender equality act as well as a national strategy to ensure gender equality in the country, thus the state authorities are not required to mainstream gender into policies, programs, strategies, acts, etc. and gender inequalities and imbalances if existed are invisible or neglected. That means that gender is rarely a lens to analyze existing policies and acts. Gender sensitiveness and expertise of the professionals and decision makers is low. In addition, mechanisms for public consultations on the reforms are underdeveloped and many of the existing gender discrepancies are unknown and very rarely discussed in public.

  • The social security legislation in Bulgaria, in force from 01.01.2000, principally guarantees “equality of the insured persons” (art. 3 Code of Social Insurance). With regard to the pension awarded for length of service and old age, women can retire at a lower age, which is considered as a more favourable condition for them. However, application of gender analysis to the pension reform outlined several arguments against this statement. As a result of the reform, pension benefits are linked more closely to the lifetime earnings, thus the role of individually cumulated pension requirements becomes more important for calculating the level of benefits. A closer linkage between contributions and benefits, as well as greater individualization in pension rights is therefore generally detrimental for women. Women are confronted with an inferior position in the labour market and do a disproportional amount of unpaid care work, which results in shorter periods of life time contributions and lower pensions.

  • With respect to the pension calculation formula there is no difference between women and men, and both genders are fully equal in rights. While the benefit formulas in the public pension scheme make no direct reference to sex, de facto majority of women receive lower pensions than men. This is because women on average have lower lifetime earnings, and they figure mostly in the group of workers with lowest lifetime earnings. Over the course of the working life of most workers, individual savings accounts for pensions contribute further to women’s disadvantage in pensions. This is mainly an effect of the women’s weaker labour market position (reflected in lower incomes and lower pension contributions), and their shorter total working life, childcare breaks. Gender equality is guarantee in principle by Constitution but in practice factors as the professional segregation and the glass ceiling impedes equality in pensions.

  • For the time being Bulgarian legislation does not determine explicitly what kind of biometrical tables – unisex or gender specific, are applicable nor in the first, neither in the second pillar. However, the first pensions from the universal pension funds will be granted from the year 2020, and discussions of the legislation in direction of common mortality rate table should be provoked. The use of gender-specific tables will give a man and a woman retiring at the same age with the same histories of contributions the same total lifetime accumulations of retirement benefits but will give the woman a lower monthly benefit because her savings must, on average, be stretched to cover a longer lifetime. While countries have found different solutions to addressing this problem of great relevance for gender equality the issue remains unsolved in Bulgaria.

  • According to the Social Insurance Code, last amended in 2006, rights for child care benefits are not the same for women and men. For example Fathers do not have the right to receive indemnifications and use the leave for pregnancy and childbirth which could be received until the baby completes 9 months, although they have been insured in the "General disease and motherhood" fund. This means that men are legally excluded from the possibility to take care for their children until they complete 9 months which reflects the traditional stereotype that men could not and should not substitute women in these periods.

  • Child care rights given for pension purposes generally but not absolutely are equal for both genders. The absolute equality is hindered mainly indirectly. In majority of the cases and traditionally women are taking cares for children and other dependent members of the family. Traditionally men have higher incomes and the family’s economic interest implies that women stay at home and take care for children.  Her absence of the labour market is more or less the reason for loosing her experience, qualifications and positions which leads to her income’s decrease and lower pension. This situation could be changed but only if a regular state policy and affirmative measures for achieving gender equality are applied.


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Projects 2007
Project "Equal at School - Equal in Life"
Project: "Gender Dimension of the Pension Reform in Bulgaria"
Project “Equality for local development: gender mainstreaming in municipalities”
Project "Training for women candidates for local elections"
About the study
Key findings

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