Bulgaria still misses communities consciously working on gender equality and women’s rights. The needs analysis published by the Bulgarian Fund for Women and Friedrich Ebert Foundation shows that to a great extent there is no organized community offline activism in the field of women’s rights and women’s problems remain hushed up and “invisible” for the media and the public. This trend has been confirmed by our work with women in remote rural areas in North West Bulgaria and in the cities of Plovdiv and Varna in the last two years. What is more, our experience shows that it is necessary to address the issue of women’s rights in Bulgaria without reducing the topic to just violence against women but also work for women’s empowerment; help women freely express their opinion, pursue their goals and be confident to address the issues of their local community. The project aims at setting up local female communities in the cities of Vidin, Vratsa, Montana, Pleven and Lovech which will work for greater visibility of women’s problems through the point of view of the multifaceted nature of human rights and for raising the awareness of the local community about human rights. In order to achieve the goal, we will use the successful social format “SHE in…” that our organization has developed and has been using successfully in Plovdiv and Varna. An information day will be organized in each city about the format and training sessions on women’s problems and rights. We plan to set up local teams, holding “SHE in…” in the relevant city that will keep supporting the newly-founded communities in the long run and will keep holding the event after the project end as well. In this way the newly founded communities will be empowered and will be part of a new wave of a women’s movement in Bulgaria which will enable more women from all ethnic communities in their cities, most of all Roma women, to be made aware of and actively exercise their fundamental rights.
Summary of project results
The project aims at setting up local female communities in the cities of Vidin, Vratsa, Montana, Pleven and Lovech which will work for greater visibility of women’s problems through the point of view of the multifaceted nature of human rights and for raising the awareness of the local community about human rights. As a result of the project, 5 sustainable local teams of volunteers were formed, around which local women''s communities emerged. In two of the five teams, Roma women play key roles, with two of these communities taking steps to register a Roma women''s organization. Another important result is the publication of a handbook "How to organize the event SHE in…", which not only helps the sustainability of new teams, but in the long run will be a key tool used by the organization to consolidate and expand the network of “SHE in… “ In the five cities around the local teams of volunteers and after the first editions of the form, women''s communities were formed. Proof of this are the Facebook groups created in each city, which are administered by volunteers. For example, 214 women are members of the SHE Facebook group in Vidin, and 116 are members of the SHE FB group in Montana. The newly formed teams in Pleven, Lovech, Vidin and Montana organized their events after the end of the project. From that point of view, the project activities are sustainable and will continue beyond the funding period.