Arts and cultural activities, Community development

Founding a Readery for Women "Dimitrana Ivanova"

Chitalishte (lit. “readery”) is a specific type of community center, with roots in the 19th century Bulgarian Enlightenment and revolutionary movements.


Who is behind this?

Milena Stateva

Orion Grid for Leadership and Authority



Idea pitch

The chitalishte is owned by the community and serves cultural, educational, community bonding, and other strictly communal purposes as defined in the legislation. This is the first chitalishte specifically on feminist issues. "Chitalishte for Women" was set up by the Orion Grid in November 2020, kicking off with a course on "Feminist Epistemologies in Action" with a symbolic financial contribution by the Bulgarian Fund for Women. The 20 participants decided to found their own chitalishte.

Where will your project idea take place?


What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The ruling of the Constitutional Court stated that the supreme national law is based on the concept of biological and binary sex. Further clarification provided elsewhere by judiciary institutions explains that the Bulgarian constitution is Christian (it is secular) and that according to Christianity only "men" and "women" exist. The CC emphasized the presence of the term "woman" in the Constitution where she is mentioned as a "wife" and "mother". The last years mark a rapid turn to far-right and populist ideologies and rhetorics. There is a strong "anti-gender" current and call for a return to "traditional values" propagating misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, and other discriminatory and oppressive views. Widespread hate speech often results in severe violence.

Who are you doing it for?

This project aims to provide an opportunity for the women founders to develop their activities conceived during the Orion Grid course. These are 20 women aged between 26 and 52, including LGBTIQ+ women. They have various professions, education, and backgrounds, including journalists, directors, activists, marketing specialists, translators, and so on - profiles that complement each other allow them to develop high-quality activities together.

How do you plan to get there?

1. Critique of a handbook provided in PGQC for teacher’s qualification at one of the biggest Bulgarian universities. The reading on “Class Management” demonstrates learning differences in capacities between men and women, different ethnicities, and so on. This project criticizes this research from the viewpoint of feminist epistemologies and will provide the base for a campaign to update HE in Bulgaria.
2. A series of interviews with Bulgarian women - feminist performative artists and activists. The videos are based on the biographical-narrative method and aim to promote their work and ideas.
3. Discourse analysis of misogynistic and anti-feminist rhetorics in Bulgarian social media, and strategies for intervention.
4. Online quiz which trains the respondents to argue with anti-feminists and, based on their responses feeds, back on their feminist style, giving them also tips on how to put their understanding into practice.
5. A collaboratively developed Needs Analysis Report, based on a rigorous Theory of Change methodology that reviews gender issues and provides recommendations for action.
6. Literature review on the importance of emotions in politics.

What are the expected results?

For the founding of the chitalishte itself, we have applied to another funder. With this project, we aim to fund the first year of activities of chitalishte so that they build a track record, explore the context and the roads to impact. We expect 5 papers, one report, 10 videos, and 10 other interventions that will produce various videos, blogs, papers, book chapters, reports and so on.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The Orion Grid who are incubating the Chitalishte are professionals from the Humanities and the Social Studies areas who are experienced in a wide range of psychological, sociological, group facilitation, and change management techniques as well as include women's rights defenders with experience at all levels of preventing violence against women (direct support, policymaking, research, education, etc.). Based on a systemic approach, the Orion Grid supports, connects, and develops self-organized networks of equal and engaged people, organizations, and movements: a "grid" with galvanizing rather than simply "networking" qualities that exchanges and amplifies the energy of those who carry a democratic impulse and defend rights.

Why is this idea important to you?

We are 20 women who have established a sisters' community of solidarity. We are mutually lifting each other up while discussing and working through a wide range of issues at at least three levels - personal development, development of feminist knowledge, skills, and understanding. Growing as a community made us capable to generate new ideas and initiatives, inspiring and supporting others, and impacting attitudes, understanding, relationships, and behaviors in the wider society. We will be supported by Milena Stateva (PhD) and Lora Belcheva both experienced mentors and process consultants with specialisms in sociology and psychology and their linkages with the arts within a feminist framework.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

10 mini projects of members of 3000 each.
5000 for coaching and organizational/process consultancy for the Orion Grid.

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We will be happy to connect and share experiences with other feminists from Europe and beyond.



Idea created on April 26, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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