In recent decades, the European Union (EU) has taken significant steps to promote gender equality in ways and activities aimed at understanding the causes of still existing inequalities and the implementation of rules on equal treatment of the sexes, as well as specific measures in favor of women.
The main objectives stated by the Commission are:
- End gender-based violence
- Fight against sexist stereotypes
- Closing the gender gap in the labor market
- Achieving gender balance in decision-making processes
The management of the Medical University of Plovdiv has always been distinguished by actions aimed at increasing transparency and opportunities to strengthen the engagement of employees and lecturers in implementing measures to promote equality and equal opportunities.
The main Objective of the MU-Plovdiv is to provide a safe place for everyone and to function in a way that respects equality and diversity, which is free from discrimination and guarantees unhindered academic progress for all.
As shown in several studies and during consultations, some people suffer from prejudice and encounter institutional barriers; as a result, they may not be able to take equal advantages of existing opportunities for academic development. These barriers often take the form of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and difficulties in balancing work and family life. Institutions that are focused on science, quality of education and human rights need integrated activities in universities to strengthen the European research environment. The European Commission has set the following targets for strategies for gender equality in research and innovation (2012):
- Promoting equality in scientific careers
- Ensuring gender balance in decision-making process and bodies
- Integrating, i.e., considering the biological and social characteristics of women and men
The social mission of the Medical University of Plovdiv is to guarantee access to knowledge and acquisition of skills for all the people who have the right to do so. By implementing good practices in activities and improving communication within the university community, the best solutions for promoting equality can be promoted more effectively, enabling the creation of a safe environment and equal treatment in the university, as well as combating discrimination in the process of academic development.
The university is what allows everyone, depending on his merits and efforts, to be able to develop his professional career, ensuring effective equal treatment of men and women, providing them the same opportunities, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or social status.
Equality between the sexes finds its first affirmation in the Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed, and approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. In fact, Article 1 recalls that: “All humans beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
On the 04/24/2019, by order of the rector, Corresponding Member Prof. Dr. Stefan Kostyanev, the Ethics Committee was established at the Medical University of Plovdiv, and it was renamed on 03/02/2021 by the order of the rector Prof. Dr. Mariana Murdjeva of the Commission on Academic Ethics.
An academic ethics committee is a body for any problem of an ethical nature that may arise within the activities of the Medical University of Plovdiv, however related to clinical practice and biomedical research.
The total number of staff of the MU-Plovdiv is 1388 people, of which 903 are women and 485 are men. That makes 65% of the staff women. The research team consisted of 795 people, of which 451 women or 56.7% and 344 men or 43.3%.
The implementation of a project aimed at achieving gender balance in the field of the profession is a major European strategy to promote equal opportunities between men and women. It is a systemic approach that envisages the integration of a gender perspective in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies, with a view to favouring equality between women and men and the fight against discrimination.
The main criticism of projects aimed at achieving gender balance is the lack of clear goals and indicators, a large margin of misunderstanding remains when moving from the theoretical dimension to the implementation of a design strategy.
Gender equality plans are at least partly the answer to these criticisms. They are strategic, operational, and individualized tools that allow defining the legal, organizational, economic, and social and operational conditions for implementing gender equality in practice. This term does not mean that men and women should be equal or equal in number, but that when they have the same skills, they should have equal access to the same opportunities.
In the context of research organizations and higher education institutions, the European Commission encourages the adoption of Gender Equality Plans and defines each plan as a series of actions aimed at carrying out an impact assessment for:
- identifying the dimensions of gender discrimination in the organization
- identify and implement innovative strategies to correct any kind of inconsistencies
- setting goals and monitoring progress through indicators
Gender Equality Plans are today the primary tool for influencing systemic institutional change through:
- determining strategies for the development of human resources in institutional management
- allocation of funds for scientific research
Medical University of Plovdiv prepared its plan for gender equality in a three-year perspective. Three critical issues were identified that needed strategic intervention and commitment corresponding to the following three points:
A. Promoting gender balance at all work levels
The actions that will be taken in this direction are:
A1. Increasing the representation of women/men in various committees/ examination, competition, quality, scientific ethics… / To achieve a balance in the number of representatives of both sexes.
A2. Creation of an Equal Opportunities Committee/ Anti-Discrimination Commission.
A3. Increase in the number of lecturers in courses/conferences organized by Medical University of Plovdiv to achieve a balance in the number of representatives of both sexes.
A4. Promote greater gender balance in staff and working groups assigned to R&D projects.
A5. Integration of gender dimension in research activity, in information and training activities.
B. Encouraging and supporting women in the workplace
The actions that will be taken in this direction are:
B.1 Favouring career advancement while respecting and observing the principles of equal opportunities.
B2. Favouring the recruitment of female researchers while respecting and observing the principles of equal opportunities.
B3. Dissemination of the activities carried out by female researchers at Medical University of Plovdiv.
B4. Promoting the integration of gender, age, and ethnicity variables in research processes and in the content of scientific studies.
C. Balance between work and private life at the Medical University of Plovdiv
The actions and measures that will be taken in this direction are:
C1. Encouraging work-life balance.
C2. Introduction and maintenance of evaluation of the study of the university regarding corrective and/or improvement actions related to the period of maternity and other periods of absence from work provided by the laws in force, to obtain a fairer evaluation
C3. Availability of services and tools by the University to support the care of children, elderly family members and/or with disabilities.
C4. Promotion of applications for paternity leave.
The Medical University of Plovdiv is established before the national and international community as a university without barriers. Affirming continuous development, diversity and equality are leading.
All students, staff and especially the management of the university have a contribution in this.
The aspiration has always been towards improvement and adoption of good new practices.
The plan for equal opportunities by gender is proof of the international validation of the university, of the aspiration to acquire new knowledge and values and to take action to eliminate violence, discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, and age.