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The first women MPs of the First Republic/video/

 

Armenian women were granted the right to elect and be elected for the first time at the First Republic times, when many European countries women were still fighting for that right. In 1919, as a result of the first parliamentary elections three of the 80 parliamentary seats were allocated to women. All three of them were members of the Armenian revolutionary Party.

 

They were devotees of the national liberation movement – Berjouhi Partizpanyan-Barseghyan, Catharine Zalyan-Manukyan and Varvara Rotinyan-Sahakyan (pictured from left to right).

 

Catharine was the wife of Aram Manukyan – one of the real founders of the First Republic of Armenia.  They married in 1917, when Aram was the authorized representative of the Armenian National Council. Their marriage lasted less than two years, since Aram, died on January 29 of 1919 from typhus. Catherine was a doctor who devoted herself to the care of orphans and refugees.

 

Berjouhi Partizpanyan-Barseghyan was born in 1886 in Edirne.She attended High School in Filpe(now Plovdiv). She was only 16 years old when, full of enthusiasm and inspired with  ideas to serve the motherland, she met her future husband revolutionary S. Barseghyan in her path.  Dictated by him, she created a group of ladies, which had the aim of spreading enlightenment and revolutionary ideas. Then she traveled to Geneva to study literature and pedagogy. During this period she began to compose with Etna pseudonym. Her short stories were published as a separate book, “Storm in the end”.

 

She was Avetik Sahakian’s (Father Abraham’s) wife. She was elected as a member to Parliament in the years of the First Republic, and included in educational programs. During that period, he suffered a heavy loss – her son died due to lack of necessary medications.

 

Later, the Sovietization of Armenia and her husband’s imprisonment followed.  During the February revolution Varya, her husband and two children fled on foot to Tabriz. After six years of living here Sahakyans moved to Southern Iran, later, Iraq. But the climate was extremely bad for Varya’s health, now the family had to move to Lebanon.

In Beirut Varya again was involved in social activities, participating in the work of Relief Cross organization. In 1932 fate dealt a new blow. She lost her other son, a year later, her husband. This strikes completely destroyed Varya’s health, and she died shortly after.

 

 

Full text in Armenian

 

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