The Bulgarian Women’s Union was founded in 1901 as a union of 27 local women’s organizations with the task of working for the intellectual and spiritual rise of the Bulgarian women. The Union worked for the equality of Bulgarian women in three directions – to obtain rights of education, of labor and of suffrage. In 1903, a left-wing group separated from it, disgruntled by the supremacy of the organization. The BWU was a member of the International Alliance of Women (IAW)/ International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA)/ International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship (IAWSEC), the International Council of Women (ICW), the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). The Bulgarian section of the League was led by Ekaterina Karavelova and Lydia Shishmanoff.
In 1927, the BWU brought together 60 local women’s societies with 7 000 members, housewives, teachers and clerks. Most of them had secondary education and about 8% had higher education. At the beginning of the 1940s, the BWU brought together 170 women’s societies with more than 14,000 members.