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The political progress of Armenian women abroad, but not yet in Armenia…

In the past week, we have been proud to announce that two of our compatriots have won the local elections in France. In particular, Zhanna Barseghyan, who heads the list of the “Europe, Ecology, Greens” party, was elected the new mayor of Strasbourg, and Anush Toranyan, the director of the office of the Armenian General Benevolent Union in France and the representative of the political force of the current mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, was elected head of the 15th administrative district of Paris.

Anahit Harutyunyan, a political commentator for “Ankakh”, the author of the book “Century of distinguished women”, discusses the details of these events in her article “Armenian women will make progress abroad, and in Armenia they will “sit quietly” at their places”, drawing parallels between the success of Armenian women abroad and  the opportunities for women to become heads of local self-government bodies in Armenia.

… The thirst for pride of our Armenians was especially compounded by the fact that Zhanna is the granddaughter of Dashnaktsutyun figure Sargis Barseghyan and Perchuhi Partizpanyan, one of the three women deputies of the parliament of our first republic, which once again proved that heritage is a powerful force against which time and space are powerless. Great granddaughter’s success gave us the opportunity to commemorate her grateful grandfather and great-grandmother once again. It is a very heartwarming event, it is probably impossible to imagine a better pedestal in memory of the ancestors.

But while the majority of the public almost memorized Perchuhi’s biography and admired Jeanne’s triumphant smile, it seems that they  overlooked the fact, that this French election was a significant victory for us in terms of the Armenian-Turkish / Azerbaijani relations, the Armenian-Turkish / Azerbaijani lobby conflict. While the French parties were fighting for the mayoral seats, there was competition between Armenians and Turks. The point is that the Turks, as Erdogan stated, intended to be part of the city councils’ propaganda to spread their propaganda, deny the Armenian Genocide, weaken the position of French-Armenians in municipalities, and in French politics in general.

From this point of view, the elections in Paris were no less important than in Strasbourg. One of the possible winners here was the pro-Armenian mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, a prominent pro-Armenian activist and a former French Minister of Justice, Member of the European Parliament, and now the mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, Rashida Dati, a prominent pro-Azerbaijani figure with close relations with the authorities, anti-Armenian statements and voting.

Therefore, it was a great success for us to re-elect Anne Hidalgo, for whom we owe it to the French-Armenian community, first and foremost, to the vision of Anne Hidalgo, who in time predicted the victory of the Greens (“Europe, Ecology, Greens” won the June 28 election in almost 3 dozen cities),  forming an alliance with them (French comedians, by the way, called the alliance “watermelon”, referring to the pink inside the watermelon, the color of the socialists and the external green color symbolizing environmentalists).

It was also a hot battle in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, where the main rivals were Anush Toranyan, a young politician from the Anne Hidalgo-led “Paris en commune” bloc, and the director of the French office of the Armenian General Benevolent Union and  Agnes Evren, an experienced Turkish politician and member of the European Parliament from the “Engages pour sauver Paris” bloc led by Rashida Dati. So, Anush Toranyan’s victory was no less significant here, if we take into account, for example, the population of the given district, which is quite close to the population of Strasbourg (respectively, more than 250 thousand and 277 thousand).

The success of our compatriot women, however, also raises sad thoughts in the sense that we cannot be proud of the success of our women in this field here in Armenia.

In general, mayoral elections are a painful topic for us, as throughout the history of the Third Republic of Armenia we have only one example of a woman mayor: Echmiadzin Mayor Diana Gasparyan, who, however, was not elected in a normal election campaign (meaning that she was appointed acting mayor by the order of the Prime Minister Pashinyan on the wave of revolution, and  a few months later, in the conditions of the euphoria of the same revolution, she was elected as Pashinyan’s “chosen” candidate as in many other communities and in the city of Yerevan).

By the way, two years ago, during the Yerevan elections, we touched upon this issue, the world-Armenia conflict, noting that women have been conquering big and small cities for the last one or two decades(Rome, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Athens, Stockholm, Warsaw, Prague, Baghdad, Tokyo). In fact, cities are becoming more and more “feminine”. Moreover, the point is that sometimes men do not even participate in the election campaign. This year in Paris, for example, all three favorites were women: Anne Hidalgo, Rashida Dati and Anies Byuzen, while after one or two failed attempts in the early 1990s, our women did not even dare to run (with the exception of Yerevan’s previous 2017 elections when Zaruhi Postanjyan ran for mayor for the first time). And because from this point of view, 2018 elections were exceptional and there were three women running at once (Zaruhi Postanjyan, Naira Zohrabyan and Anahit Tarkhanyan) we hoped that maybe in our country voters would prefer women who have proven many times in the world that they lead the lives and economy of cities as skillfully as their families and we, as citizens of Rome, would have the opportunity to record that Yerevan has elected a woman mayor for the first time in its 2800-year history. We all know what happened, hopes were not justified.

Therefore, a rhetorical question arises. Would Zhanna Barseghyan and Anush Toranyan have won in our land if they did not enjoy the patronage of the ruling political force? In the above-mentioned French elections, by the way, almost everywhere the candidates of the “Forward, Republic” ruling force were defeated. But we call ourselves a “bastion of democracy,” and they don’t.

And one more question. Would the three female candidates for mayor of Yerevan (Zaruhi Postanjyan, Naira Zohrabyan and Anahit Tarkhanyan) be good mayors? Of course, it’s hard to say today. But we can say for sure that they would be a thousand times more successful than the current malle payor Hayk Marutyan…



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