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Bulgaria ranks near top in World Bank index of women’s rights

11 March 2019 News

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva shared both personal and political experience during the presentation of the new World Bank index of the status of women in public life.

The ‘Women, Business and Legislation’ index was presented by the interim President of the World Bank Group Kristalina Georgieva. The index measures the rights of women in the labor market, from starting work until retirement and getting a pension. With a score of 93.75 out of 100, Bulgaria ranks among the top 30 of 187 surveyed nations.

‘I am proud that Bulgaria is among the leaders according to that index,’ said Ekaterina Zaharieva during the discussion. ‘As a lawyer, a woman and a politician I believe, however, that it is much more important to change not merely the laws, but also the mentality and mindset of people with respect to women.’ Ekaterina Zaharieva reminded the audience that she is the third woman to serve as head of Bulgarian diplomacy in the past 27 years, ad that Bulgaria’s example in that respect is not just positive but also quite rare.

‘Out of the 193 UN member states, only 28 have a woman as their foreign minister, and when I was appointed, within the European Union there were only two: Sweden and Bulgaria,’ she said. Ekaterina Zaharieva referred to yet another positive Bulgarian political example: the fact that all three European commissioners from Bulgaria thus far have been women.  ‘In addition, the national Ombudsman, the President of the National Assembly, two deputy prime ministers and a total of six cabinet ministers in Bulgaria are now women, she added.

Speaking about her personal example in her professional field, Minister Zaharieva noted that in her ambassadorial nominations, she adheres to the principle of gender equality and balance. With respect to women in public life, the Foreign Minister voiced her pride with the fact that Bulgaria ranks first in terms of the share of women in science. ‘In this country, 54% of scientific researchers are women, while science is traditionally seen as a male domain,’ she said. The Minister pointed out that Bulgaria ranks first in the EU in the share of female students in the IT sector (33%) and in the percentage of women IT engineers (27%).

‘I am proud that the region I come from and live in, Central and Eastern Europe, serves as an example of how normal it is for women to be managers, politicians, bank governors, founders and owners of successful businesses,’ said Minister Zaharieva.

She was the first panelist to speak. The discussion was then joined by Maya Manolova, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, Boryana Manolova, CEO of Siemens Bulgaria, Rumyana Trencheva, Head of Global Channels and General Business for Central and Eastern Europe, SAP, and Kristalina Georgieva.

In presenting the index, Kristalina Georgieva pointed out that the world loses 163 trillion US dollars annually due to the fact that women do not participate fully in public and economic life. Therefore it is important to know the actual dimensions of the issue of gender equality in society, Georgieva said. Minister Vladislav Goranov, who also joined in the discussion, noted that the Bulgarian score in that index is above the average for the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, also known as the Club of the Wealthy.

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