swvngoSociety Without Violence NGO was founded in 2001 by Anna Arutshyan and Nonna Arutshyan, who are currently trustees of the NGO. The vision of SWV is to have civil society without violence, society where the country will be governed by people adherent to true democracy values, people who respect and promote gender equality, society where there will be no space for violence against women.

Aiming to learn more about the organization, we have talked to the executive director of “Society Without Violence” NGO Anna Nikoghosyan.

– What is the mission of your organization?

The mission of the organization is to share our human rights skills and knowledge with others, to educate and inspire young women and girls to be active in the political, social, cultural life of the republic, to empower women and girls to become leaders, woman human rights defenders. Our mission is also to fight against violence against women and domestic violence and to empower women to know and protect their human rights. We are also trying to establish an institution of women human rights defenders and we want to recruit active women and women in our mission.

– What lies at the core of your philosophy?

Our activities are based on feminist philosophy, gender equality and respect for human rights and the struggle for democracy. Feminism includes all of these. By saying feminist values, we mean an approach where women play an important role and are aware of their role and are fighting for their rights.

– What is the driving force behind your organization?

Activism and unyielding spirit is the driving force, as stated a representative of Serbian Women in Black network, when one sees any injustice, discrimination, prejudice he/she shouldn’t be obedient. Our slogan is to fight and be strong, no matter how difficult it will be. The other slogan is to feel the team dynamic that we are acting not as an individual but as a group.

one billion rising

– What difficulties you encountered during you activities and how you solved them?

The first difficulty that we face is that people most of the time don’t have any idea what we are doing and they start to label us as “family destroyers”. That is why during our activities we are always trying to raise awareness about who we are and what we do. We are trying letting people know that gender equality is important and why is it important to have active women in all spheres. I can bring a lot of examples how participants of our trainings and workshops told that they were afraid and had very distorted ideas about what is feminism, gender and gender equality, but afterwards they understood everything and were regretting their denial. The other difficulty that we are facing is the distance, because we are visiting regions, villages close to borders, small cities and many times the taxi drivers are refusing to get us there because of the comfortless roads which are incompatible for driving.

– What is the greatest achievement of your organization?

It is hard to say which is the greatest but one of the achievement we had during these 13 years of existence is the experience that we had in the villages and regions of Armenia where we had worked with thousands of people. Another achievement is that we are trying to make the gender education part of both formal and non-formal curriculum in Armenia. It has been 2 years that we are working on that the gender component will be included in humanitarian studies of the school curriculum, if we achieve that integration, I will be sure that it is our greatest achievement. Another achievement of ours is that we enhanced women’s activism and active participation in peace building processes and conflict resolution.

– What advice would you give to your readers who are interested in your organization’s activities?

I would advice to the individuals who are interested in activism and fight for justice, women’s rights and gender equality, to contact any organization of this field and be part of the team. The organizations have a serious lack of people involved in activism and fight for human rights, so they need you! We need to work together and be united in order to see the changes we want to make.

Nelli Arakelyan