Why is there such resistance in Bulgaria against women’s equality?

Why is there such resistance in Bulgaria against women’s equality?
Why is there such resistance in Bulgaria against women’s equality?

PES-Women organizes a forum dedicated to the labor market, future professions and equal pay between women and men

The conference also addressed the participation of women in politics. In the lists for the upcoming elections, out of 186 leaders, only 36 are women – just under 19%

“The main identity of the left is the fight for equality. Equality in all its forms, but mostly social. Ever since the creation of the Bulgarian social democracy at the end of the 19th century – 1891, the fight for women’s rights has been one of the characteristics of our party. Today, some may think that they are guaranteed, but this is not the case. We see how the superimposition of crises – energy, economic and global due to the war in Ukraine, high inflation and insecurity, is exacerbating inequalities, especially in countries like Bulgaria. People are worrying about how to patch up the budget, how to send their kids to school and survive the winter, how they’re going to pay their bills. In this complicated situation, there are many risks for the loss of social rights, including women’s rights, and we must stand up for them.”

Thus, the leader of the European left, Sergey Stanishev, opened the “Women’s Empowerment” conference, organized by PES-Women and the Union of Socialist Women (UNSW) in BSP in Plovdiv.

He shared that he is often asked about the toughest political battles that socialists have fought at the European level in the last decade. “I would single out the struggle to get out of austerity and belt-tightening policies imposed by the right in Europe; The recovery plan after the Covid-19 pandemic; the fight for the Youth Guarantee and against violence against women. What is surprising to me, however, is the fierce resistance we encounter in the political battle for women’s equality. Why?

Far-right nationalist parties used this theme for a much wider debate between them and liberals about traditional family values ​​and narratives of the good old days. It’s like back then men were always gentlemen and women had all the social rights – to study at universities, vote, find work and be paid decently. But as we know, this is not the case at all. It was the socialist idea that fought for women’s equality – March 8 is not a day of male gallantry, it marks political battles.”

Stanishev recalled that one of the key conditions of the socialists in 2019 for supporting the “von der Leyen” Commission was the presentation of a comprehensive European strategy for gender equality in the EU. “Today it is a fact. And I am particularly proud of the successful campaigns of PES-Women over the years, as well as the good work of the European Commissioner from our political family with the portfolio “Equality” Helena Dalli. With joint efforts, long-standing priorities of the left political family are already being implemented. But many questions remain unsolved.

The difference in pay between women and men in the EU is 14%, and in Bulgaria between 13 and 15%, i.e. women work for more than two months for free. The employment gap at EU level is also significant – 79% among men and only around 67% for women, and they are increasingly better qualified. We cannot leave these problems only at the level of the economy. Issues of inequality are political, not economic. And if we don’t solve them now, they will be even more glaring in every subsequent crisis.”

The president of PES-Women, Zita Gurmai, congratulated the Bulgarian socialist women in a video address. “The pay gap between men and women is disappointing and unfair. In two months, in November, we will celebrate the European Equal Pay Day together with all our organizations in the parties of the left political family. It is a day that symbolically shows that after it practically women work for free until the end of the year. We are really fed up. We want to change that now, not tomorrow.” “There are issues that only women can shout about. We hear that a possible distance education is now being announced for children to show solidarity with the energy crisis. There is a real danger that we as women will pay the social price of the consequences of war, crises and inflation. We shouldn’t allow it,” urged Dora Yankova, the chairperson of the OJS in the BSP, in her analysis.

The individual panels of the conference included representatives of institutions and non-governmental feminist organizations, trade unionists Vanya Grigorova and Violeta Ivanova, the chairman of the “Balkan Institute for Labor and Social Policy” Ivan Neykov, Haralan Alexandrov, social anthropologist, political scientists Strahil Deliyski and Tatyana Burudzhieva, the mayor of Troyan Donka Mihailova, Marina Kisyova De Heus, executive director of the “Ekaterina Karavelova” Foundation, Lea Vaisova and Stoyanka Eneva from Levfem. During the forum, up-to-date sociological surveys on the topic conducted in Bulgaria were also presented. According to the data of

Research center “Trend” the majority (nearly 86%) support the idea of ​​the same position for women and men to receive equal pay, but only 40 percent believe that men and women in Bulgaria have equal opportunities for career development.

“Women make up 51% of Bulgarian society, and they, on a personal level, as well as the state, have invested a lot in education and professional development, and occupy just over 13% of all management positions. This is a systemic problem. We invest huge resources – national and personal in the education of women and then use 1/5 of that capacity. This is society’s problem, not women’s problem. It also has today’s dimensions – if we assume that, according to sociologists, six parties enter the parliament, this means that we have 186 leaders on lists. Of them, 36 are women – less than 19%”, Ivan Neykov pointed out in his speech. According to Violeta Ivanova from KNSB and Vanya Grigorova from KT “Podkrepa”, if women do not have the same conditions and equality in the labor market, this leads to differences in pay, and hence to an increase in poverty. According to KNSB data, the average salary for women is BGN 265 less than that of men in Bulgaria, and the pension is BGN 129 less. maternity women are forced to use unpaid leave, hourly working hours, and quite a few even leave work. This process accumulates a classic patriarchal pattern in society. We cannot talk about emancipation without talking about the role of the state and the provision of public basic services,” said Lea Vaisova from the feminist organization LevFem.

On the last day of the conference, the participants also debated the participation of women in politics. “We use military metaphors for politics – it’s usually a war, a battle, and the parties in it win or lose. Or we compare it to men’s sports, often a football match. Our whole idea of ​​the state is of a strictly hierarchical structure, with an almost military order . Because of these perceptions, women are initially on the reserve bench in politics,” commented Strahil Deliyski and Haralan Alexandrov. A concrete example was given by Donka Mihailova, mayor of Troyan municipality, pointing out that the Ministry of Education in Bulgaria is 143 years old, and only 3 of them were headed by a woman. “Looking at the lists of the parties represented in the parliament in the last elections for the city of Plovdiv, I found that there are no women in the first five positions. There is a slight improvement in the lists for the upcoming vote, and out of 11 mandates, Plovdiv has a chance to have one woman in the parliament. This it is undoubtedly an obstacle to the participation of women in politics,” shared Marina Kissova from the “Ekaterina Karavelova” Foundation.


The article is in bulgaria

Tags: resistance Bulgaria womens equality

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