Talk on Gender Equality Day with Anna Arutshyan


In 2010, Society Without Violence NGO declared July 27 as Gender Equality Day in Armenia. Since then, every year we organize extensive public activities aimed at awareness raising on gender and women’s rights. Today, 10 years after introducing Gender Equality Day, we talk with SWV NGO’s co-founder Anna Arutshyan on the history, vision, objectives of the day and other crucial matters.  


What is the history behind July 27, what has been the motivation to declare July 27 as a Gender Equality Day in Armenia (also, selection of that date)?

Almost all modern-day UN states legally recognise the equal rights and opportunities between women and men, but de facto 70% of women live below the poverty line and own only 1% of land when they comprise 51% of earth population. This means that legal recognition of gender equality is necessary but not sufficient condition to establish substantive equality in real life.

And Armenia is not an exception in this regard. Society Without Violence has been working with national educational institutions for years to eradicate the stereotypical attitude towards women with the aim to build a societal behavioural change in the perception of gender equality. Therefore, SWV declared 27th July (as a symbolic equal divider of the calendar year) to be celebrated as a national day of gender equality. Thus, for 10 years SWV has been organising public events to highlight the importance of the stereotype-free perception of gender equality concept. July 27th public event was also a unique generator of empowerment for young women engaged within and out of SWV who were organising these public events with specific themes every year in various cities of Armenia.

Why is it important to have Gender Equality Day on a national level?

Armenia, still a carrier of Soviet heritage, continues to celebrate 8th of March as a celebration of spring and beauty. In fact, the whole concept of the day has been distorted and moved to the discourse whereas women are cherished for their beauty associated with chocolate and flowers. Highlighting a day in a year to celebrate gender equality is another chance to question the true calling of gender equality, the fight for that equality by and through struggle of fierce and bold women under the doubtful existence of it in the context of capitalism.

In your opinion, what changes will occur in public perception and attitudes if we start celebrating Gender Equality as a national day in Armenia?

To celebrate a gender equality day is not a self-sufficient itself. We brilliantly acknowledge that even in the case it is being mainstream celebrated in Armenia there is still a high chance it could turn into another false 8th March celebration. We can identify dozens of days in the calendar to celebrate equality for women but unless the mindset, overall conception and societal attitude is challenged and discriminatory approach towards women is fundamentally changed, days in the calendar will not matter.

With this determination to tackle the behavioural change in the society and sound understanding that it is not possible to accomplish within a year or two, SWV has adopted a structural strategy to systematically work with school to educate children with a stereotype-free attitude and genuine grasp of equality between women and men. School is the place for children to learn to critically think, to analyse, to value humans regardless their gender, race, sexuality, disability, or other feature.

And only through the achievement of this goal we would celebrate a gender equality day…

In general, what is your vision regarding Gender Equality in Armenia?

More I study the concept of gender equality in the capitalist world, more I understand that I fight against the inequality rather than fight for equality. The current understanding of equality in the capitalist sense is quite ambiguous and obscure. In my deep belief, human tragedies like poverty, genocide, racism, war are all conditioned by the factor of othering people. Othering people and/or categorising them by race, gender, sexuality is the easiest way to control and manipulate, shape it elegantly under the mainstream accepted norms/notions of tradition or patriotism. But in fact, the whole othering discourse is reinforced and reproduced from the perspective of power dynamics control exacerbated by the patriarchal wings of capitalism and militarism.

My vision as a feminist is not to applaud that women are being integrated into the structural power paradigms of patriarchy but the abolishment of that paradigm. I envisage to address the toxic masculinity, gender binary norms for our children not to suffer from them, but critically analyse and re-evaluate. 

My vision is that the institute of education from the early age will encourage our children to develop critical thinking, the ability to question the norms being enforced upon them. And only through that the enlightenment and true adherence to equality values will be accepted and respected. 

Meeting with the Political Figures and the Workshop on Writing Policy Proposals

On September 28, members of “Take action” Women Political Club had a chance to meet with prominent woman political figures: MLSA minister’s adviser Olya Azatyan and NA delegate Maria Karapetyan.

The active discussion revolved around the topic entitled “Women’s Involvement in the Governmental and Decision-making Processes; Opportunities and Challenges.”

The next day, the participants of “Take action” had a workshop session on policy writing. Ani Kojoyan, gender studies expert and lecturer of Yerevan State University lead the training, introduced the methods and tools of conducting research and developing policy proposals. The participants of the women’s political club applied their skills and knowledge in writing policy proposals and submitting them to the corresponding governmental bodies.

The topics of researches varied including women’s matters in the agriculture, temporary unemployment and maternity allowance, women’s employment issues in rural communities, excluding violent scenes in television.

We are glad to share that policy proposals and recommendations will be considered for the amendments in laws by the National Assembly of Armenia.



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