In 2016, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Federation of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria (FTTUB) launched the next stage of its “I swear!” campaign, inspired by the White Ribbon oath started by MUA and launched in Bulgaria by FTTUB’s Youth Committee and its co-chair Alina Milusheva during ITF’s 43rd Congress. This campaign is a logical continuation of our long-standing efforts to combat the instances of violence at home, in public places and at the workplace.
In the past two years, we have worked with different transport sectors, where we ran campaigns to draw public awareness towards violence experienced by transport workers in them. 2014 saw a very strong start in the urban public transport, of the campaign for an ILO Convention on VAW at the workplace. The campaign is active even now, and its stickers will remain on the buses and trams until the adoption of an ILO convention.
In November 2014, we also secured the full and unconditional support of Bulgarian government for the proposal to establish an ILO convention for the elimination of violence against women. Ever since then, during the various sessions of the 3-partite body at ILO on that matter, Bulgarian government representatives have voted in support of the Convention and have participated actively in the work of the committees drafting the documents, the latest being in the beginning of October this year.
We have also signed contacts for partnership and mutual actions for combating VAW at the workplace with the ports in Bulgaria, as well as with all major public transport companies in the big cities. Various VAW-eliminating measures have been transposed into articles of the collective agreements in many transport sectors.
Now is the time for us to open up to the whole society, and turn the wide public’s attention towards the problem, by inviting men in general to become aware of the various forms of VAW, and also to become active agents of the overcoming of this problem to which almost 30 per cent of Bulgarian women become victims.
The ‘I swear’ campaign invites Bulgarian men to take the oath and their photos in front of the “I swear!” poster – which is now located at the most frequented metro station in Sofia – and post these photos on the Facebook page of the Federation of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria, as well as their personal walls, thus becoming part of the positive example of truly strong men! Women are also invited to actively share and popularize the campaign on social networks, encouraging their friends and colleagues to take the man’s oath, upload their pictures and share “I swore!” We use the hash tags #ЗаклехСе and #СТСБ in Bulgaria, while our international friends and colleagues can use #FTTUB #ThisIsMyOath #ZaklehSe.
This morning, FTTUB’s youth Committee, youth activists and leaders kick-started the campaign at Serdika metro station, becoming the first new ambassadors of hope. The president of FTTUB Ekaterina Yordanova, who is also the ETF and ITF Vice-president, greeted all of them with the words: „Today, we start a new era in our fight with violence. This problem is undermining the entire society. Moral crisis is deeper than the economic one, and this escalated violence in general.” Mrs Yordanova went on to share her belief that “With this campaign, we’re going to change the lives of many women, for the better!’
Popular Bulgarian actress Iskra Radeva will be the official face of the campaign for an entire year – a beautiful embodiment of the values and ideas of the campaign: that woman’s soul needs to fly free and that men and women should live in mutual respect and harmony.
The campaign is widely covered in Bulgarian press and TV media, and instantly drew wide support from the University for National and World Economy (UNWE); the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), Women GERB Sofia, CITUB’s Youth Forum 21st Century; the wife of Bulgarian pilot Yanko Stoimenov; all FTTUB’s structures throughout the country.
FTTUB’s ‘I swear!’ poster will be in Sofia metropolitan until 20 January 2017. On 10 December, UN’s International Day for Human Rights, we’ll close the 16 days of Activism 2016 and will link our campaign with the UN’s ‘Orange the world’ campaign which is drawing support and raising money for combating VAW. While today our color was white – like the White Ribbon of the men’s oath – in the following days until 10 December we will pay tribute to the symbolic of the orange, as it is the color of UN’s campaign.
FTTUB’s campaign will run until 25 November 2017 with posters at the major railway stations, airports and other important public spaces throughout Bulgaria, and with various activities on the social media.
The ‘I swear’ campaign started during the 43rd Congress of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, which was held in Sofia in 2014 and hosted by FTTUB. It was the envisioned and executed entirely by FTTUB’s Youth Committee. Its co-chair Alina Milusheva was the heart of this campaign in the summer of 2014, and the curator of the exhibition for the inauguration of the campaign. Back then, hundreds of men and young member delegates took the oath that they will not exercise, tolerate or support violence against women, and took their pictures in front of the campaign poster. Every one of them received a white ribbon. 30 white doves “came to life” from the portraits, took flight and carried to all corners of the world the message of the liberated woman’s soul and the hope for a better world in which men and women live and work in harmony.
All men and women who took the oath at the 43rd ITF Congress in Sofia, and thus accepted to advocate for women’s rights, are invited through FTTUB’s Facebook page to find their photos in our gallery and show their ongoing commitment to the campaign by making the photo their profile picture, using the hash tags #FTTUB #ThisIsMyOath #ZaklehSe
FTTUB’s expert on international relations and women’s affairs Mila Nikolova is representing us at the closing conference of ETUC’s project “Safe at home, safe at work” which runs 24-25 November in Madrid. Bulgaria is one of the 11 countries participating in the project and FTTUB:s president Ekaterina Yordanova is a member of the project’s steering committee. Exactly at 12 p.m. all victims of VAW-related incidents were observed with 1minute silence. You can watch Mila Nikolova’s short report here.