A call to the Bulgarian woman for more self-confidence and self-belief was made by the speakers in the public discussion “She in Europe”

One hundred days before the European elections, Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation organized a public discussion called “SHE in Europe”, whose purpose was to give the floor to Bulgarian women who have experience and influence over European policies with a focus on gender equality . The panel discussion was led by Marina Kisyova de Geus – founder of the Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation, who emphasized the low percentage of women in politics in Bulgaria – only 24% of the members of parliament are women.and highlighted the recommendation of the European Commission, according to which the parties should alternate men and women on their electoral lists.

Speakers in the discussion were Irina Ivanova – Board member of the European Institute for Gender Equality and Head of the Department “Equal opportunities, anti-discrimination and social benefits” at the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy; Maya Doneva – expert on public policies in the field of social enterprises and adviser to the Bulgarian platform of the European women’s lobby ); Vyara Savova – lawyer with a focus on crypto and Web3 and their related legal issues, senior head of “Policies” at the European Crypto Initiative (EUCI).

Maya Doneva spoke about the hot topic of the lower pay of women compared to men. This difference which is about 13% in the EU, as well as the inability of women to work at certain moments in their lives due to the care for their children and families, leads to a 30% difference in the pensions of men and women in the EU.  Family care is also a very common reason why women do not engage in politics. She highlighted the fact that more women than men graduate university and they should have equal opportunities for career development.

Irina Ivanova shared that she is currently working on the implementation of the EU Directive on improving the gender balance among directors of listed companies on the EU stock exchanges that should ensure that  at least 40% are held by women by 2026. She also pointed out that the issue of gender equality is a policy that should start from the top – to make decisions, the political will is vital to implement them so that it can be carried out downwards. “Depending on what sign we are given from above, we start talking more about equality”.

She also presented data from the European Gender Equality Index, according to which Bulgaria ranks 16th in the EU with 65 points out of a total of 100 points, and to some extent this is due to the fact that Bulgarian women play an important role in taking decisions in the social sphere and the economy. However, the place of women in the political life in Bulgaria is small – the chance of men to enter politics is 75% greater, the women salary is 14% lower than that of men, 37% of women think that it is normal to spend more time on domestic duties than men outside of their work commitments.

Vyara Savova pointed out that the topic of women’s equality in Bulgaria is a problem that must be realized as many people do not believe that it exists. Accordingly, if politicians and the population do not believe that there is a problem, then it cannot be solved. She also emphasized that women should not set limits on their choice of professions. The more technological professions are mostly occupied by men.

Evelina Sandalova – a policy expert in Brussels presented insights about the expected outcome of the european elections and how this will influence gender equality policy. She called for voting in the European elections in order to reduce the risk of losing what has been achieved in the last 5 years.

After an engaging  discussion with the guests of the event, the speakers called  Bulgarian women to stand up for their positions and to believe in themselves and to vote in the European elections.

“SHE in Europe” was the first of a series of events to be organized before the European elections by Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation.

SHE in Europe is implemented with the financial support of The Bulgarian Fund for Women and The European Union. The expressed views and opinions are entirely those of Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation and do not necessarily reflect those of The Bulgarian Fund for Women, The European Union or The European Education and Culture Executive Agency. Neither the BFW, nor the EU, nor the EACEA can be held responsible for them