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“We should strive for equal representation of women and men in the RA National Assembly”

WomenNet.am continues a series of post-election interviews with female MPs. The main topic is the assessment of women’s participation in the past parliamentary elections, which is crucial to the identification of causes that hinder women’s advancement and the context of the changes expected in the Election Code. Our interlocutor, MP from “My Step” faction, is an Armenian MP, who has been famous for her civic and social activities before becoming prominent.

 

Post-election talk with MP Maria Karapetyan

 

– How would you characterize public opinion on female candidates, was it in favor of you?

 

 – Public opinion is of course diverse. I’ve had different perceptions. On the other hand, opinion about me is often predetermined by opinion on my political team –  “My Step” alliance, and vice versa, the opinion about the members of the alliance also affects the general opinion. Generally, after the velvet revolution, there is a great interest in politics in the public, and growing confidence in political actors and institutions, and sometimes anxiety caused by bad predictions or conspiracy theories. During the pre-election period, I and my colleagues felt the trust and optimism of the people, mostly due to our being young and having good motives. During the past several months of work in the National Assembly, I have been trying to do my best to ensure institutional policy does not make  barriers between me and people. For me not only  public opinion is  important but also that people can feel free to communicate with me/us.

 

– What role does the family play in women’s political participation? In your case, have the family been opposed or supported?

 

– The family can support women’s political participation, either directly or indirectly making it possible or impossible. On the one hand, it can be a boost to the promotion of women through distributing family responsibilities. On the other hand, the unequal distribution of functions may lead to a double burden on public or political activities. Often, family members are distracted by the fear, cautiousness, public opinion, and fears about stereotypes that they keep women from public and political influence. My family encouraged me. My mother has always been an advocate of my advancement. From an early age, she has pushed me to the world and is now very supportive.

 

– In your opinion, what should be the representation of women in the parliament and whether the quota is necessary to ensure it?

 

–  The National Assembly should reflect the structure of society in the logic of representative democracy. We should strive for equal representation of women and men in the National Assembly. Quota is a necessary but temporary tool on this path. In parallel with this, we have to take measures that will ensure women’s involvement without a quota. The best way is to formulate their agenda, at least by some female and male politicians, to promote women’s empowerment and self-esteem.

 

–  And if there were no quota,  would it have affected the presence of women in the current National Assembly?

 

– I am almost sure that our representation would be less. Otherwise, it would not coincide with the number dictated by the quota. When at least one percent will exceed the fixed quota, I will see that a “natural” change has taken place.

 

 – What are the problems that you would like to prioritize as a legislator?

 

– In the context of this interview, I have the comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, the improvement of domestic violence legislation, and the legitimate control over its use. It is also important for me to eliminate the breakdown of laws and social norms in order to reflect the equality of men and women declared in our laws in reality.

 

– The new parliament has been functioning for several months? Is women’s voice heard.

 

– I think yes. The involvement of women in discussions and decision-making in the National Assembly makes me optimistic.

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