The gender equality policy is a horizontal policy that brings together the actions of the executive at all levels. It is implemented through combined application of a mainstreaming approach and temporary targeted measures which require an effective national institutional mechanism.
Since 2000, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) organises and coordinates at national level the implementation of the state policy of the Republic of Bulgaria for equality between women and men (Decree of the Council of Ministers No. 155 / 2000, promulgated, SG No. 65 / 2000), in cooperation with many other institutions and organisations. Since 2004, there is a special unit designated in MLSP. This is currently the department “Equal Opportunities, Anti-Discrimination and Social Assistance Benefits” (EOADASB) within directorate “Policy for People with Disabilities, Equal Opportunities and Social Assistance Benefits” (PPDEOSAB). The department acts as the Secretariat of the National Gender Equality Council with the Council of Ministers.
The foundations of the national coordination structure at the highest level of the executive were set in 2004 by establishing a National Council on Equality between Women and Men at the Council of Ministers (DCM No. 313 / 17.11.2004, promulgated, SG No. 104 / 26.11.2004). The Council is a standing body for consultations and coordination of the bodies of the executive branch and the non-governmental organisations in designing and implementing the national policy for equality between women and men. It is chaired by the minister of labour and social policy and its members are deputy-ministers from all ministries, directors of agencies, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination, the Council for Electronic Media, the National Statistical Institute, the National Social Security Institute. Associated members are the social partners, the scientific community, the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria, NGOs operating in the field. The Ombudsman has the status of an observer. Experts are invited to the meetings of the Council depending on the topics discussed. In the years of its operation, the National Council has established itself as a sustainable model of cooperation between institutions, social partners and the civil society. In 2014, the Rules on the structure and organisation of work of the Council were amended (DCM No. 108 / 10.05.2014, promulgated SG No. 42 / 20.05.2014) to develop and strengthen further the national institutional mechanism for gender equality.
The coordinators for equality between women and men are part of that mechanism. At present, all institutions and organisations have designated and trained experts responsible for the coordination of the policy for equality between women and men in the respective sector, who liaise with the Secretariat of the National Council.
The effective operation of the national institutional mechanism is a guarantee for the successful application of the gender mainstreaming (with equal care for the problems, needs, views of women and men) in designing and implementing all sectoral, regional and local policies and in conducting analysis and impact assessment prior to decision making. The integrated approach (the so-called gender mainstreaming approach) and the implementation of temporary targeted measures are mutually supporting strategies which lead to achieving real equality between women and men and implementing the integrated policy.