restricted access ZLATAREVA, Vera (1905–1977)
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620 ZLATAREVA, Vera (1905–1977) Board member (Secretary) of the lawyers’ branch of the Druzhestvo na bulgarkite s visshe obrazovanie (Bulgarian Association of University Women). First Bulgarian woman permitted to work as a defense lawyer (1945). Vera Zlatareva was born on 3 December 1905, in the small village of Goliamo Belovo, 100 kilometers east of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. Her mother Maria (b. 1880) and her father Dimitar Zlatarevi (b. 1876) were both teachers. After finishing the local village school, Vera graduated from the middle and high schools in Plovdiv, the second largest city in the country. In 1929, she graduated from the Law Department of Sofia University where, in 1931, she would also be granted a Doctorate. In 1936, Vera Zlatareva married Mihail Genovski (1903–1996): lawyer, journalist, ideologue for the Bulgarski Zemedelski Naroden Sujuz (Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union) during the interwar period, politician (Cabinet Minister and MP) and, from 1944, professor at Sofia University. The couple had two children : a daughter and a son. Vera Zlatareva never took her husband’s name. In a brochure published in 1945, she wrote that the change of name signified “the property relation that a man has towards his wife” (Zlatareva 1945, 12). In the years 1931– 1936, Zlatareva worked in the service of the state; from 1931–1932, she assisted the legal adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture and State Property. She represented the Ministry of Agriculture and State Property at the High Administrative Court and participated in governmental commissions, drafting laws on the Bulgarian peasantry. From 1932–1934, she chaired a special section within the Police Department set up to combat “Social vice,” in other words prostitution. During this time, she carried out and published research on prostitution in Bulgaria. From July 1934 to July 1936, Zlatareva worked for the town council of Plovdiv, chairing the Social Support Division . Upon marrying, Vera Zlatareva returned to Sofia, where she lived until the end of her life. From June 1937, she worked at her husband’s legal office and began campaigning for the right of women with law degrees to practice as defense lawyers and Vera Zlatareva (right), 8 April 1940, after a meeting where government officials promised to resolve the question of women lawyers’ rights. 621 judges. She was subjected to police harassment because of her leading role in the socalled “women’s constitutional commission” (1937), an informal group of women lawyers who worked in close association with the communists. The commission’s main goal was to fight for the restoration of the Constitution (suspended after the military coup in 1934) and for the full civil and political rights of women. To this end it sent “An open letter” to the Bulgarian government. As a result of her liberal ideas and democratic activities, and under pressure from the authoritarian, bureaucratic and right-wing government in 1939, Vera Zlatareva was expelled from the Druzhestvo na bulgarkite s visshe obrazovanie (Bulgarian Association of University Women) and from the Sujuz na bulgarskite pissatelki (Union of Bulgarian Women Writers). Vera Zlatareva struggled continuously against the exclusion of Bulgarian women lawyers from the bar and won some concessions to her cause. In 1938, the Council of Defense Lawyers in Sofia allowed Zlatareva to work as a defense lawyer for a probationary period. But the district attorney in Sofia contested the decision and it was subsequently annulled by the Supreme Council of Defense Lawyers. In 1942 (after Bulgaria had annexed Macedonia in 1941), the Council of Defense Lawyers in Skopie allowed Zlatareva and a colleague of hers to practice in Skopie. But it was once again the Supreme Council of Defense Lawyers in Sofia which put a stop to this. The protests of women lawyers across Bulgaria were, as Zlatareva’s life story shows, reflections of these women’s personal struggles with the male legal profession and a direct articulation of their experiences as they persistently came up against obstacles to their professional development. Hence the passion and anger that fueled Zlatareva’s actions as secretary to the women lawyers’ section of the Bulgarian Association of University Women (affiliated to the International Federation of University Women in 1925). Women lawyers would only be allowed to practice in Bulgaria after the introduction of communist legislation in October 1944, granting women equal rights with men. Vera Zlatareva was the first woman lawyer to exercise this right. Vera Zlatareva was a prolific researcher into various social issues. She published extensively on prostitution in Bulgaria, as well as on the...