In September, at the foot of Lozen Mountain, together with twenty-five youth workers, volunteers and activists from nine countries – Bulgaria, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Ukraine and Armenia we studied, created and shared stories and good practices in the context of gender equality. All this happened within the international training “Visual Storytelling  from A to Z”, organized from 14 to 23 September 2021 by CVS – Bulgaria, the Bulgarian branch of the international peace movement for and volunteers exchange network Service Civil International.

The training program was divided into thematic modules to provide new information, improve knowledge and develop the skills of the participants and enable sharing in a safe and creative environment. The program included meetings with visual arts experts, as well as a visit to several organizations that shared their own practices in the field of gender equality and further contributed to the training and development process. The modules were arranged thematically: “Meeting and getting to know of the participants”; “Introduction to the topic of gender equality”; “Expert meetings”; “Visual campaigns” “Visual stories become reality”; “Evaluation and reflection”. Also included were “Thematic evenings”, in which they managed to have fun, relax from the work process, but also continue to study and share prints. We created a safe space where everyone can feel comfortable sharing personal experiences and situations, as well as feel free to develop their creativity.

The project aimed to raise the level of self-awareness of the participants regarding their identity and to support their perception as individuals and not as objects of gender-determining stereotypes. The development of these competencies was assessed by the partner organizations as extremely important for the participants, so that they could, within their volunteer organizations at local level, pass on what they have learned to the volunteers and young people they work with. The times in which we live require young people and youth workers to increase their literacy on the topic of gender equality in order to achieve better self-knowledge and confidence to apply in their daily interaction on a personal and professional level. This need responds to their expectations. Objectification of people is very common in different countries and especially among young people brought up in an environment where it is perceived that strength is for boys and emotions are for girls. In the age of technology, young people spend more time online, where many problems are projected. This reality also showed the need to increase media literacy. The world of media and social networks is becoming more and more visual, so the need to develop competencies to distinguish the good from the bad examples of media provocations was also assessed as urgent.

Thus, the problems of our time identified in the planning process determined the goals of the training and the various thematic blocks of the curriculum. In the first part of the training, participants addressed various topics and concepts related to gender and gender equality, feminism, gender-based violence, human rights and discrimination, sex education and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. They shared the various challenges they identified in their local community, found many similar problems and grouped by interests to create visual narratives to counteract what was happening.

As part of the visual tools we looked at, we visited the premiere screening of the film “Women Do Cry”, which through the stories of several collective female images presents the problems faced by women in Bulgaria. The film was extremely influential and the participants were enthusiastic to discuss the plot lines in detail and to reflect on their own perceptions, connecting the problems shown with the real challenges in their own realities.

In order to achieve a deeper understanding of the topics and to gain a deeper insight into the specifics of the situation in the country, the participants met with experts from Bulgaria, in the person of Lili Dragoeva and Gloria Filipova from Bilitis Foundation, as well as with Yavor Konov from the Ivor Foundation, who painted a realistic picture of the challenges they face in their daily work in the field with people from the community and care for their mental and physical health, as well as the successes they have achieved over the years of hard work.

As part of the program, we organized a Human Library, during which participants were able to meet young people from the LGBTI community, who told them about the difficult personal journey they have taken and the constant struggle they have to lead every day to be themselves in an intolerant and often openly hostile society.

The program in the last module included four mentors-creators and experts in visual arts and social media: Victoria Marinova – an expert in creating concepts and content for social networks, Isabella Markova – a graphic designer who supports a variety of social causes with a unique style of illustrations, Violeta Apostolova – Leti, a photographer who captures details of the soul of the people standing in front of her lens, and Nikola Gulmezov, a journalist and photographer and videographer, whose photo and video stories not only convey the reality refracted through his talented style, but also inspire. For two days, they all supported and guided the participants in the preparation of their mini-campaigns, guiding and giving them useful advice, sensing their wishes about what they wanted to show and offering them a purposeful framework and guidance in the visualization process. Thus, in the second practical part of the training, together with mentors in the field of visual arts and social media, the participants created various mini-campaigns in different media formats on topics such as: sex education, obstetric violence, feminism, the right to abortion and the beauty of diversity. See the great results of this creative process, which the participants themselves are already spreading within their local communities, among friends, families and young people they work with, as well as internationally, through their network of partnerships.


Instagram @informed_maternity_care



Instagram @the.gender.dress

Game -sexual eduaction

The project “Visual storytelling from A to Z”,  2019-2-BG01-KA105-062826
 is supported by Erasmus+ Programme, under KA1, Youth workers mobility

 Posted by Kathy at 20:22 Volunteer activities

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