In Support of Women’s March: Expat Women Stage Protest in Bulgaria

Written by on January 22, 2017 in Bulgaria, Latest, Sofia - No comments

A participant of the solidarity event in Sofia is holding an interesting sign.

Some 60 expats and Bulgarians took part in the Sofia version of the Women’s March on Saturday. The protest, which took place in front of the main university building in the city center, was organized by American expats, in support of the actual event in Washington D.C.. Because of the time difference, the latter started four hours later, at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Laurel Zmolek-Smith, who co-organized the Bulgarian event via Facebook, said, the protest in Sofia was “just one of over 600 sister marches taking place around the world”. The purpose was to express solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and “to promote the idea that women’s rights are human rights. Those apply to every country all over the world”, she stated.

The Sofia protest took place in freezing temperatures, 20 hours after Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. According to Laurel Zmolek-Smith, the purpose of the event was not to protest him or his presidency directly, “but it is certainly motivated by the fact that he had such a misogynist campaign.”

In the U.S., the first huge march of this kind took place in 1997 in Philadelphia. It was called the Million Women March. The official title of Saturday’s demonstration, Women’s March on Washington, was called after the March on Washington in 1963, at the end of which Martin Luther Kind held his “I Have a Dream Speech”.

Some police officers watched the event in front of Sofia University. Some drivers, who were racing by on Boulevard Vassil Levski, honked at the protesters. It was unclear whether those were signs of support or the opposite.

Protests for gender equality, minority and LGBT rights are very rare in Bulgaria, due to the alarmingly wide-spread racism and homophobia in the country. Most Bulgarian language media would not even cover the annual Pride Parade. Embassies, among them the American one, keep on demanding action against discrimination on the part of the Bulgarian government.

The original Women’s March on Washington drew half a million participants, according to the organizers. This means there were more participants than at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, one day earlier. 120,000 demonstrators came to the Boston version of the protest. In many parts of the world, people showed solidarity with the big march in the District of Columbia.

By Imanuel Marcus

Photos by Imanuel Marcus





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