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Lena Nazaryan: “We, women, should realize our power, the power of our collective co-operation”

We present Lena Nazaryan’s remarks at the March 8 event titled “Civil Society – National Assembly Platform for Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women”. It should be reminded that during the event representatives of the National Assembly and Women’s NGOs signed a memorandum of understanding.


“Together with many other political ideas, the idea of March 8 was distorted and deprived for  the past decade in our country. March 8 has been celebrated for many years as a celebration of women and is connected with the day of giving a purely flower and drinking of women toast. During this time, the true advice of the day has been forgotten. Today I am happy to re-evaluate March 8 and celebrate not just a women’s holiday but a day of women’s rights and struggle.


This day is related to the International Women’s Movement, which began about 110 years ago, which puts forward the issue of the rights of women workers, the right to elect women and to be elected. It was, of course, preceded by the centuries-long struggle.


The issue of “women’s problem” and “liberation of women” in Armenia and among Armenians has more than 150 years’ history. One of the driving forces of that history is Elpiz Kesaratsyan, Srbouhi Tyusab, Mariam Khatisyan, Zapel Yesayan, Shushanik Kurghinyan, Flora Vardanyan and many other social and political figures whose names we have not even heard.


We were not told about many women who have struggled with their work or example they did not teach us about them in schools and even in universities, but we enjoy today the freedoms and rights that have been won and realized by these women.


Thanks to the movements for women’s rights, we are currently in this hall and I appeal to you as a deputy elected to the National Assembly Vice-President.


Therefore, March 8 is, first of all, our day of gratitude to all the women in the world who have made vigor, effort and life in the struggle for the liberation of women and the solution of problems.


True, women’s issues continue to exist, and the struggle should continue for women’s rights. Therefore, March 8 is also a promise for us that we will continue this fight for the sake of the welfare and rights of all women in our countries and in the world.


No matter how painful it is to announce, however, yes, in our country, women have a number of outstanding, as well as unsightly issues. Although women have a fixed legal equality in Armenia’s Constitution and laws, in practice, opportunities for women’s rights are limited. Most of the work of women, the care of family and children, remains unnoticed and deserving. Women in Armenia have the right to equal education, but education of girls in many families and communities is not a priority. True, women have the right to form a family, manage their private life, but instead of many women and girls, their vital decisions are made by others, and many feel themselves under the pressure of “public opinion.” Women have the right to health, but they are not always protected by their right to reproductive health and their own body. Women should be protected by law, but there are women who are constantly subjected to violence and exploitation in the family, at work, and in public places. There are dozens of researches on many issues I have mentioned.


We have quotas that encourage women’s participation in political life, but they are insufficient for the high inclusion of women. Today, though, we have a relatively larger but only 24 percent of women in our parliament.


We must admit that women with more than 50 percent of our population have a lot of expensive public resources such as free time, financial resources, and public trust and support. Additionally, we must state that women of different social groups have different access to these resources and equality. While they are necessary for all women to have a greater participation in public and political life and to have a real opportunity to solve their problems.


These issues first of all, should be meaningful for us – women, The problem of one woman is the problem of all women – as it is social in nature, so it must be settled through legal mechanisms and public support.


We, women, should understand our problems as well as realize our power, the power of our collective co-operation. Like everywhere in Armenia, women are also supportive. Often you can admire how different generations and women from all over the world support each other, share their own experiences, help them in household affairs, and share work difficulties in women’s groups. However, these experiences of women’s friendship and mutual support often remain in narrow family or community domains and are not part of public life and experiences. We have women’s solidarity environments, but we need to expand them, we need to strengthen other women’s support.


Celebrating March 8, we first of all recognize the existence of women’s problems and our commitment to overcoming them. I am glad that today many such women are present at this event. Of course, I am sure that many are not in the hall at the moment, but are devoted to the struggle for women’s rights in Armenia. Many of you are helping your community to see the unseen issues of women and help them find solutions and support women.


Dear Ladies, Sisters, Congratulations to all of us on March 8, the International Day of Women’s Rights. And if flowers on March 8, they are just a solid symbol of solidarity with the struggle for the full enjoyment of women’s rights. ”


It should be noted that the event was organized by “Equal. Promoting Women’s Political Participation at the National Level “, implemented by OxYGen Foundation in cooperation with ProMedia-Gender NGO and with the financial support of the Swedish Government.

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