As part of the official program for the Centennial Anniversary of Zonta International, Area 5 in District 30 organized a conference titled, “Women on the Balkans in the next 100” in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. The conference was organized with the support of Stara Zagora Municipality.
The event was focused on the following topics:
- Ending poverty – an opportunity for economic independence of Balkan women.
- Prerequisites and legal regulations for raising the economic status of women.
- Cyber-crime against women – the new form of violence.
- Women on the Balkans – most common victims of human trafficking in the EU.
- Prevention of domestic violence – challenges and good practices.
The conference welcomed 130 guests, lecturers, citizens and other participants, including International Director Sigrid Duden, Bulgarian Vice President Iliana Iotova, Minister of Justice Tsecka Tsacheva, Members of Bulgarian parliament and non-governmental organizations.
Participants at the forum accepted to prepare an open letter to institutions and public bodies including recommendations for legal amendments related to domestic violence in its various modern forms. The official letter will be posted to the Speaker of the House of Parliament Tsveta Karayancheva and the Director of the Parliamentary Committee of Justice
Representatives from not-for-profit organizations and institutions, as well as multiple women leaders, discussed women’s rights and gender equality on the Balkans, the new forms of violence against women and children, cyber crime, education and human trafficking.
All these themes became part of the thriving discussions at the event.
Duden underlined the importance of a strong network of women to support its members on the Balkans and globally, in fighting for women’s rights, and ultimately, for human rights.
In her speech, “Women Leaders in an Age of Leadership Deficit”, Iotova pointed to the professional areas which until today are male territory, e.g. Information Technology.
“Today, women in senior leadership positions are not missing, however we are still far from equality,” she said. “The social and professional role of women is of pinnacle significance today.”
Ivanka Sotirova, vice mayor of Stara Zagora, discussed the significance of quality education for every woman, despite it not always being a priority according to today’s family values.
Tsacheva, whose resignation was handed in and accepted on the day of the Conference, inspired a heated discussion with her speech, “Domestic Violence – Challenges and Best Practice.” Participants debated possible functional legal amendments in the prevention of domestic violence.
Teodora Krumova from the Centre for Multiethnical Dialogue “Amalipe” presented figures related to early marriage in the roma community in Bulgaria, which will contribute to one of the largest projects of Zonta International, which fights child marriage globally.
Commissioner Yavor Kolev, Head of Transborder Organized Crime Department, at the Ministry of National Affairs shared statistics that one in every 10 women has experienced cyber crime by the time she turns 15, while the MP and national security specialist Manoil Manev talked about the numbers of victims in the country. In 2018, they were 443 compared to 1998 when the women and children victims of human trafficking were over 10,000.
The participants at the forum debated what working legislative changes to prevent domestic violence and violence as a whole can be introduced.