Despite Good Legislation, Bulgarian Women Still Suffer Discrimination

The average women's wage in Bulgaria is 81.6 per cent of the men's.Women who lose their job have a harder time finding a new one, and pregnancy and maternity are often reasons for hidden discrimination on the labour market, according to a survey by the Institute of Social and Trade Union Studies made public at a conference on women's role in decision-making in Bulgaria, BTA reports.

There is an ongoing process of feminization of poverty, with some 55-60 per cent of the permanently jobless being representatives of the fair sex, said Iliana Stoicheva of the Bulgarian Centre for Gender Studies.

At the moment, women hold 22 per cent of the seats in the Bulgarian Parliament, the 17-strong Council of Ministers includes 4 women, of 18 Bulgarian members of the European Parliament 8 are women and 9.5 per cent of all mayors are women, Stoicheva said.

Bulgaria has to a large degree harmonized its legislation with the EU standards in respect of gender equality but in real life women face hurdles to equal participation in political life, the state government and the decision-making process, said Bulgarian MEP Dushana Zdravkova.

Even in education where they outnumber men by far, women are underrepresented in the formulation of policies and decision-making on important issues, according to the leader of the Union of Bulgarian Teachers, Yanka Takeva.

She went on to quote statistics showing that 53.7 per cent of university graduates in Bulgaria are women, and of these 53.5 per cent have a PhD.

The Sofia forum was organized by the Information Office of the European Parliament in Sofia as part of the initiatives this year which has been designated European Year of Equal Opportunities for All.

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