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Dec 14 2011

Headline Muse, 12/14

In the government, business, and school,
Though the prejudice sometimes is cruel,
If you want something done
Who’s your pick? Who’s the one?
In Bulgaria, smart women rule.

Headline: Do women rule Bulgaria?

In my experience, Bulgarian women are one of the more powerful forces of nature. The people who got things done–whatever was needed–while my group were in Bulgaria, were strong, smart, Bulgarian women. Today’s headline was a nice chance to see that I was not merely seeing things. More after the jump:

Women are increasingly powerful in Bulgaria.

Today, one-third of company owners and top managers in Bulgaria are women. According to the (male) minister of economy, women under 30 years old make up about half of those positions. In the last five years, two women – who are also the two Bulgarian EU Commissioners – have been the most popular politicians in the county.

Women hold some of the toughest jobs in the country: ­ regional development minister, responsible for the government’s goal to build the country’s infrastructure; mayor of the capital, Sofia; minister of justice, which reforms the justice system – the target of fierce criticism by the EU; and the speaker of parliament. One day, a woman might become minister of defence, but for now, a woman holds the position of deputy minister of defence.

Women dominate top positions outside of politics as well. For example, the national television, national radio channel, top private television station and five leading national newspapers are all run by women. In addition, women run most of the public relations and marketing businesses in the country.

The most successful international position held by a Bulgarian – secretary general of UNESCO – is held by a woman. The head of the national bankers’ association is a woman, some of Bulgaria’s leading bankers are women, and one of them bravely declared in the midst of the economic crisis that she would turn her bank into the first green bank in the country.

The article goes on to claim that, were it not for longstanding prejudice, women would have far more power than they currently do. The good news is, the church has a long history but relatively little power in Bulgaria, and there are no strong cultural or religious forces institutionally supporting the old prejudices; though starting from a position several steps behind men, women are moving much faster, and with tremendous success.

Hear, hear, I say. I can’t imagine a better thing for Bulgaria. And Julia, Snezana, Maria, and Hristina (and other Hristina), if you read this (which is highly unlikely), thank you for everything.

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