The L`Oreal-UNESCO program "For Women in Science" provides fellowships for young women in science for the first time in Bulgaria under and aims to support young women to further scientific and professional training. By signing of the Protocol on Cooperation between the two organizations and their third partner for Bulgaria – the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, a competition for 2010 was opened for young Bulgarian women in science engaged in scientific research work in the field of natural sciences. After the tremendous interest and precise selection of all the applications received the jury nominated the young scientists, Elka Kraleva, a kinetics and catalysis chemist, and Elisaveta Kirilova, an engineer-chemist, dealing with research work, to be the first winners of national fellowships under the program "For Women in Science".
The implementation process of the program in Bulgaria started already in the beginning of 2009, when M3 Communications Group, Inc. developed a market intelligence, containing very detailed information on the scientific and educational bases in the country. On this basis the M3 team identified the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” as a third partner on the local project and had meetings on a high level for associating the respected institution to the program. On the next stage a protocol for cooperation was developed, which had to be approved by all the partners’ managing bodies. The role of M3 Communications Group, Inc. was very important also with making the links between all the three parties involved in this project, arrangements with the applications, building a top-level jury, defining selection criteria and mechanism and post-fellowship evaluation, determining the call for applications, the pre-selection by jury if needed, the Jury Deliberation Date.
The National Fellowship program "For Women in Science" exists in more than 40 countries and under which more than 500 young women in science all over the world are supported in their further scientific and professional development. In 2010 two fellowships to young women up to 35 years who are attending doctoral and postdoctoral studies were granted. The two winners are the first Bulgarian women awarded with in the program “For Women in Science”. This program was created in 1998 when L’Oreal and UNESCO established cooperation and organized contest awards on international level in the area of natural sciences. This program currently includes both international fellowships for young women in science in the field of natural sciences who attend doctoral or postdoctoral studies, as well as program of national fellowships for projects that would be carried out in each country individually. Awards of 5,000 euro were granted as an encouragement for women to continue to be engaged in science in their country.
The project “For Women In Science” attracts and provokes women to become more and more socially engaged with their scientific researches and involvement in the social life of all the countries where the program is realized. This is how for a first time in Bulgaria any company puts a stress over this issue – how to involve women and grant their researches. Being more or less dominated by the males, Bulgaria needs to evaluate the achievements by young women and invest in their knowledge and experience. This is why the management of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” was eager to become the local partner of the project In Bulgaria.
The project was publicly presented with a press conference to announce the start of this competition. The media interest was huge and this is how the program received popularity. Being held for a first time in Bulgaria, the program provoked interest and more than 60 applications were gathered. M3 Communications Group, Inc. team was collecting all entries and providing them to the jury. Before that actually it was the same team to propose the members of the jury, being approved by L`Oreal management. After the precise selection, the jury got the winners and the awarding ceremony had to be prepared. Again with the participation from all the 3 parties involved in the project announced to media about the projects that win and all that applied. The awarding ceremony at the end of the competition was specially attended and supported by Yordanka Fandykova, Mayor of Sofia and high representatives of the three partners on the project. Also, a congratulatory letter was sent personally by Irina Bokova, General Director of UNESCO and read before the guests at the ceremony.
Through this project the 3 parties wanted to provide support to women engaged in scientific work in Bulgaria. Recognizing the importance of investment in knowledge and science as prerequisites for development and progress of society in general the program “For Women In Science” clearly states its social responsibility and willingness to push the Bulgarian women thinking into another direction for their researches. And by doing so, the program is also changing the life-style of the modern woman in Bulgaria – she must be supported for her capabilities and educated thinking.