Gender equality crosses the Bulgaria-Turkey border

In Bulgaria, just over half of all women are employed, close to the EU average (58.6 %). In Turkey, however, it is a different story, with an employment rate for women of only 28.7 %. The share of women in management positions in Turkey is not even a quarter of the average of EU member states. The EU-funded EQUITY project promoted collaborative cross-border cooperation between the two countries for a better understanding of gender equality and to encourage women either side of the border to become more involved in the labour market and starting their own business. 

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The EQUITY project encouraged women to create their own small businesses, which was achieved by providing training and the necessary tools to become entrepreneurs.  © Enhancing respect for gender equality in BC-TR cross-border area/Equity. The EQUITY project encouraged women to create their own small businesses, which was achieved by providing training and the necessary tools to become entrepreneurs. © Enhancing respect for gender equality in BC-TR cross-border area/Equity.

" The project contributed to a better application of equality in the two border regions – Bourgas and Kirklareli – and created new friendships and opportunities for strengthening the role of women in business and the labour market. "

Vidka Valcheva, vice-president, Bourgas Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The EU-funded project’s overall goal was to promote gender equality in the Bulgarian Region of Bourgas and the Kirklareli Region in Turkey, specifically in employment and entrepreneurship. Encouraging women to create their own small businesses was a key aim, which was achieved by providing training and the necessary tools to become entrepreneurs.

Thanks to the project, support was strengthened among local and regional authorities in EU regulation and best practices, while knowledge on EU policy was shared across the two regions. The active participation of women in the project contributed to its successful implementation.

Links between Bulgaria and Turkey were further strengthened by management institutions working together on the project goals, making it possible to develop larger initiatives in the future. The project team anticipates that the methodology used (workshops, research findings, seminars, etc.) could be applied on a larger scale for future reference.

Entrepreneurs of the future

First, the team conducted extensive analyses in both cities on the status quo regarding the role of women in economic life. Then, they set up an awareness-raising campaign focusing on anti-discrimination in the workforce, and provided information on good practices.

Several studies were published: the first focused on research into EU policy on gender equality and anti-discrimination; the second analysed women’s role in economic life in Bulgaria and Turkey, focusing on entrepreneurship and starting up small businesses.

The project held seminars and discussion groups on topics such as how to start a small business, creating and developing social enterprises, examining women in modern science (challenges and perspectives), and promoting women’s rights.

Workshops were held on gender equality, entrepreneurship and the situation in Bulgaria. Training and educational courses were organised to teach women entrepreneurial and so-called ‘soft skills’, such as time management, communication and leadership, which are crucial to succeeding in today’s business world.

Out of the classroom, field trips to companies with women managers in Bourgas and Kirklareli were organised to inspire the participants. These activities led to the creation of new business relationships and social bonds, which in turn resulted in new employment opportunities and business partnerships for some of the 80 women who took part.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Enhancing the Respect for Gender Equality in Bulgaria-Turkey Cross-Border Area” is EUR 68 348, with the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) contributing EUR 58 095 through the “Bulgaria-Turkey IPA Cross-border Co-operation” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


Draft date

22/08/2017