Under the aegis of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU on 29th of May in The National Palace of Culture was the place of the conference "Roma Inclusion - Where Do We Stay And Where We Are Targeting?".
Organized by the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues at the Council of Ministers, the event sought to contribute to EU policy on Roma integration by 2020. Participation in the conference was attended by EU institutions, experts, members of national, regional and local authorities, representatives of NGOs, academics and other stakeholders.
The event was opened with a speech by Bisser Petkov, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, followed by a video of Livia Jaroka, vice-president of the European Parliament, and the first female member of the European Parliament of Roma origin. Roma Vice-President of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination, members of the European Commission, representatives of national and local authorities, academics and others took part in discussions on policies for Roma integration. Main themes were discussed as the key issues in the process of Roma integration, the involvement of civil society in the implementation of national Roma integration strategies, and the role of EU funds to improve access to social rights.

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How do women feel in the public space and what obstacles they meet to reach full social inclusion will be explored by the residents of Plovdiv through the new project of the Bulgarian Fund for Women “Sense of a City: an inclusive, safe and sustainable Plovdiv”, as part of the program of Plovdiv – European Capital of culture 2019. It challenges the understanding of urban development and the public environment as gender neutral and calls for a new, socially sensitive approach towards urban planning. In order to achieve a high quality of life in the city, all people – women and men of different age groups, ethnicity, social status, etc. – must have the right to feel free, safe and comfortable in the public space.

“It is important to understand that the streets and the public transport, for instance, are not a neutral ground and the level of freedom that men and women have in moving throughout the city is different,” is stated by Bulgarian Fund for Women. “Women and girls experience situations of violence in the urban space that are different from those experienced by men. Besides the fear of theft and assault, women experience the fear of rape and kidnapping, which might probably increase in a not lightened subway, and are exposed to a daily form of violence that is expressed through words, noises, phrases that humiliate them.” This type of gender-specific violence affects their right of security, limits their use of public space and prevents them from attaining autonomy, warns the project team. Studies show that women change their routines more often than men. For instance, women tend to stop going out alone after dark while men do not.

Read more: Plovdiv residents will explore how women feel in the city

Deep crisis in the overall political framework for Romа integration and growth of anti-gypsyism, found a Civil Monitoring Report on the implementation of the National Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria for Roma Integration. Discrimination remains a serious obstacle, especially in terms of housing conditions. Positive development exists only in the field of education, as it is mainly related to the measures to ensure full inclusion of children, but not to the implementation of policies for desegregation of neighborhood "Roma" schools.

Read more: The European Commission approved а Civil Monitoring Report on the implementation of the National...

     The two-day seminar of ASTRA, held in the capital of Croatia - Zagreb, ended. The Gender Alternatives Foundation is a member of the network of NGOs ASTRA, which includes 39 organizations from 21 countries in the Central and Eastern European region. In Zagreb, Stewart Halford and Sandeep Prasad of the SRI (Sexual Rights Initiatives) outlined in detail the capabilities of mechanisms for NGO participation in country reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The accent was on the insufficient knowledge and use of UN-accepted mechanisms for NGO participation in official reports or the creation of alternative ones if the government refused to work together.

Read more: GA Foundation takes part in the annual meeting of ASTRA in Zagreb!

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In March 2018, the Gender Alternatives Foundation launched a new project " The New Leaders - Preventing Gender-Based Violence through Alternatives for Future Career Development." The initiative is funded by the Bulgarian Women Fund and will be implemented in the period March - June 2018.

The project foresees the realization of 20 interactive workshops with more than 200 students from the city of Plovdiv on the issues of gender equality, empowerment of women and gender based violence, as well as 2 practical workshops with 15 young people leaving institutions on the topic of economic empowerment of women, social entrepreneurship and the development of a business plan.

The aim of the project is to raise the knowledge and skills of young people in Plovdiv on the issues of gender equality, human rights and social entrepreneurship through interactive trainings and workshops. The "New Leaders" addresses the need to master basic skills for realizing the labor market by linking gender issues to the importance of economic independence for young people.

The project " The New Leaders" will involve several trainers with many years of experience, child psychologist, human rights lawyers and also volunteers.

December 07, 2019