Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation presents a Report on Women's Political Participation in Bulgaria. The Executive Director of the Foundation is Marina Kisova de Heus - a participant in the first edition of the Initiative. We publish the material from the Foundation's website without corrections.

72 - this should have been the number of women in the Bulgarian parliament if the country had adopted the minimum of 30% recommended by the UN Economic and Social Council as a target for the long-gone 1995. The targets set by the Beijing Conference in 1995 for 2000 are much more ambitious, reaching 50% women in leadership and decision-making positions.

The results of the third parliamentary elections in Bulgaria for 2021, however, show that women in the new parliament will be 56 or only 23.33% of its total composition.

The consistent decline we have seen in women's participation in the last three parliaments is worrying. This is another clear signal of the persistent patriarchal attitudes in Bulgarian society and politics.

The problem starts with the low share of women in elective seats - in April they were 30% of the total number of candidates, in July 29%, and in November again 30%4. The situation with the presidential elections has also shown that the political forces and initiative committees do not consider women worthy leading candidates, but only suitable for decoration in their role as vice-presidential candidates. Out of 23 candidate pairs for the presidential election, 13 were made up of a male presidential candidate and a female vice-presidential candidate.

A more detailed look at the electoral lists of the political parties reveals where the problem with the lower participation of women in the Bulgarian parliament may lie. Elected seats are largely allocated to men, which automatically reduces the possibility to balance the representation of women and men in parliament. In the 16th election region in the town of Plovdiv, for example, the parliamentary parties and coalitions such as GERB-CDS, BSP, DB, and the new PP coalition have chosen only men to be represented in the first 5 seats on the lists. Such a decision can easily be interpreted as a message that in the second largest city of Bulgaria the major parties, which make up 70% of the parliament, cannot find even one woman worthy of occupying one of the first 5 places on their lists.
An analysis of the distribution of women in the candidate lists shows that in the early parliamentary elections in November 23% of all lists were headed by women, with the highest percentages in 14th election region in the town of Pernik and 7th in the town of Gabrovo, 40% and 38% respectively. The analysis of individual party candidate lists is interesting. Of the parliamentary parties represented in the previous 46th National Assembly, the largest number of women candidates in the lists for the November elections were from political parties: "Stand Up Bulgaria"! "We Are Coming!" (44%), and the lowest from Democratic Bulgaria (25%).

The full report can be downloaded here

This publication is part of the project "Research on the needs and problems of women in Bulgaria", which is implemented with financial support from the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria, financial support is provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Financial Mechanism (https://www.activecitizensfund.bg/).

The main objective of the project "Research on Women's Needs and Problems in Bulgaria" is to conduct a qualitative sociological survey to shed light on the problems and needs of women from different social groups from all 6 planning regions in the country.