Ekaterina Karavelova (1860-1947) is a remarkable person with a huge contribution to the development of the women’s movement in Bulgaria and the establishment of the role of women in society.
However, the achievements of women in Bulgarian history rarely find a place in the curriculum or in the urban space. This creates a false impression that they have not contributed to the development of Bulgarian society, and that the topic of women’s rights is something new and imported from abroad.
By choosing the foundation to be named after Ekaterina Karavelova, we want to draw attention to her work and inspire a new generation of women to follow her example and defend their active role in society.
The mission, vision and values of the organization are also inspired by the impressive public work of Ekaterina Karavelova dedicated to peacekeeping and promoting the role of women in society.
She was one of the founders of the Bulgarian Women’s Union in 1901 and its chairwoman from 1915 to 1925. She devoted a lot of energy and time to the Women’s Charitable Association Maika (Mother), Sofia, whose chairwoman she was, intermittently, for several decades. Convinced that women’s independence and equality require them to be able to earn a living, she strongly supported their vocational training. Karavelova led “Mother” to the establishment of the first business school for girls in Bulgaria “Maria Louisa”. The training at the school and the professional courses offered qualification for women in making clothes and hats, embroidery, floristry and cooking.
Apart from supporting the education and professional development of women in Bulgaria, Ekaterina Karavelova was also one of the symbols of the peace movement. In 1919, she founded the association Traen mir (Durable Peace), which became a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), established in 1915. In 1924 she traveled to Washington as a Bulgarian delegate to the IV Congress of WILPF and participated in a summer school in Chicago. After returning to Bulgaria, she wrote articles on women’s attitudes toward war and peace, arguing that “no woman wants war”. Ekaterina Karavelova argued that after the end of the First World War men would have to respect “new ways of action through peace and friendship, towards an understanding between the peoples” . In 1925 she became a chairwoman of the Bulgarian section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and participated in a committee of the League of Nations. In 1926, at the International Congress of the WILPF in Dublin, she declared: “Our ideal is not the peace made by governments without knowing the real aspirations of the peoples, but the peace of true democracy.”
In 1933, during the third general meeting of the Bulgarian section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, a Committee for the Protection of Jews in Germany was established. Later during World War II, Karavelova also worked in support of Bulgarian Jews.
All this is only part of the active work of Ekaterina Karavelova, who besides advocating for peace and women’s rights, was a teacher, one of the first Samaritans in Bulgaria, translator from Russian, German and French, author of political feuilletons and literary criticism.
We believe that with the mission of Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation to support the development of women in Bulgaria, to build women’s communities and to advocate for effective participation of women at all levels of decision-making, we continue the work of Ekaterina Karavelova.
- Francisca De Haan, Krasimira Daskalova, and Anna Loutfi. 2006. Biographical Dictionary of Women’s Movements and Feminisms in Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe : 19th and 20th Centuries. Budapest ; New York: Ceu Press/Central European University Press.
- National History Museum
- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom