Bulgaria adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) in 2020 for the period 2020-2025. The NAP was developed by a Consultative Working Group established in 2019. The working group is led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is composed of experts from all government institutions, nongovernmental organizations (NGO) representatives, and independent academic experts.
Bulgaria’s NAP is organized around four interdependent and interrelated pillars: Prevention, Participation, Protection, and Prioritization. The NAP approaches WPS implementation at both the domestic and international levels, and reaffirms Bulgaria’s commitments within other frameworks including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations (UN). Civil society has a role within NAP development and implementation.
After the Second World War, Bulgaria became a communist country under a one-party system. A multi-party system was introduced in 1989, with the Constitution of 1991 declaring Bulgaria a parliamentary republic with guaranteed human rights and freedoms. However, it has faced challenges in protecting women and women’s rights. It has consistently fallen below the EU average on the European Institute for Gender Equality’s annual Gender Equality Index. Bulgaria is one of six EU member states that have not yet ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence and Violence against Women, or the Istanbul Convention. Through its Constitutional Court, Bulgaria repeatedly rejected it as unconstitutional on the basis that the constitution only recognizes ‘sex’ but not ‘gender’. The court argued in its 2018 ruling that constitutional protection against sex-based discrimination does not mean equal treatment of both sexes, as biological differences must be taken into account. This has posed a risk to the rights and protections of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, in particular trans people.
At the multilateral level, Bulgaria has served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council three times, in 1966–1967, 1986–1987, and most recently in 2002 – 2003. Bulgaria held the presidency of the EU Council in 2018, eleven years after joining the EU.
National Action Plan (2020-2025)
Global Gender Gap Index 2020
49 out of 153
Arms Trade Treaty Ratified
Military expenditure (2019)
$1.247 billion USD
Explore Bulgaria's National Action Plan
A Consultative Working Group was established in 2019, and is led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Working Group consists of experts from relevant government institutions, representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and independent academic experts. On 2 October 2019, the Working Group hosted a roundtable discussion in order to have a public consultation. Development of Bulgaria’s NAP took place with the collaboration of Ireland, which shared its experience and expertise in WPS implementation.
Implementation will be a joint effort among several institutions, including various ministries such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. Various military training academies and schools are also responsible for NAP implementation, including the Military Medical Academy, and G.S. Rakovski National Defence College. Other actors include the Social Assistance Agency, the Child Protection Commission, the National Institute of Justice, the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office of Appeals, the National Social Security Institute, and NGOs.
NAP monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring of the NAP will be a shared responsibility among institutions.
The NAP will be implemented for the period 2020-2025.
Bulgaria’s NAP is organized around four pillars.
- Prevention: preventing violence and promoting gender equality within law enforcement, peace and security processes (including non-violent conflict mediation and resolution), governmental policies, and the general public. This pillar incorporates relevant strategic documents including the National Strategy for Promotion of Gender Equality.
- Participation: promoting and supporting the active and effective participation of women in all peace processes and in formal and informal decision-making at all levels, as well as maintaining a policy of balanced gender representation in international and regional organizations.
- Protection: strengthening efforts to ensure the safety, physical and mental health, wellbeing, economic security, and dignity of women and girls, to promote and protect women’s rights (including within the contexts of armed conflict and post-conflict reconstruction), and to mainstream gender equality.
- Prioritization: relates to Bulgaria's contributions to the WPS agenda within the EU framework and the prioritization of WPS in the country’s commitments within NATO, the UN, multilateral and regional initiatives, including those in the field of arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.
Each of the four pillars in Bulgaria’s NAP is divided into a subset of goals. Each of these goals has a relevant set of measures, actions, and responsible institutions.
For example, Pillar 3 of Protection contains three goals. Goal 3.1., ‘Protection of the rights of women and girls during an armed conflict and in the post-conflict reconstruction process and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls’, is divided into five measures, including (p. 22): ‘3.1.2. Optimization of the funding and reporting of activities relating to gender equality in conflict-affected areas within the framework of development cooperation and humanitarian aid policy’. This has two associated actions.
Each action in Bulgaria’s NAP has a set of indicators and a timeframe. For example, under Pillar 1 of Prevention, the action ‘Active involvement of women mediators in programmes and trainings for nonviolent resolution of disputes and conflicts’ includes four indicators, for example, the number of trainings and programmes implemented and the number of participating women mediators. The timeframe for this action is 2020-2025.
The NAP states monitoring will be a shared responsibility among institutions and a review will begin in the second half of 2022 (p.4). However, the NAP does not set out a specific monitoring and evaluation framework or process.
Each action within Bulgaria's NAP has an associated budget, however it is not specified in the document. Rather, under budget, it states that the NAP will be implemented ‘Within the budget allocations for the relevant institutions’, in reference to the budget of listed responsible institutions.
Under Pillar 4 of Prioritization, Bulgaria’s NAP sets out that it will promote the principles of the WPS agenda within regional and multilateral initiatives on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament (p. 28).