Armenian women in history

Anahit HarutyunyanThe century of outstanding women

History shows, that Armenian women have long taken part in public life. During different centuries women’s participation in public life was expressed in various ways. Armenian women, indeed, have left their trace on the course of Armenian history, and, despite the statement that Armenian is a revered nation, today we don’t know about the outstanding women of our own history.

Do they do not deserve to be mentioned? Were these women not influential enough? Why don’t we know about them?

For centuries many of our intellectuals have referred to women’s issues, and have followed their political and social activities. The situation differs now. Few of our intellectuals refer to women’s activities, but, nevertheless, there are still those who are trying to revive long-forgotten history of our women intellectuals, politicians and public figures, artists and other influential individuals.

Anahit Harutyunyan had a great contribution in the process of introducing to us our ancestress. She is the author of the book “Century of Outstanding Women”, which covers notable Armenian women’s social activities at 19th and 20th the beginning of centuries.

Based on historical facts, it becomes clear, that men and women were equal in Armenian society. In our history women didn’t have a subordinate position nor did they have the stereotype that a man should rule over his wife. In fact, this model, which dates back centuries, is quite unfounded.

This book creates a clear picture of an old, traditional family. The book describes the role of men and women not only in the family, but also in social and political spheres. It is important to mention that in Europe, until the 20th century, women were fighting for their right to vote, while in Armenia, during the establishment of the First Republic (1918), the question didn’t even arise whether women can vote or not? Armenian women both voted and were elected. In Parliament of First Armenian Republic, there were three women: Katarine Zalyan-Manukyan, Varvara Sahakyan, Perchuhi Partizpanyan-Barseghyan. Throughout the end of the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century women’s issues dominated in Armenian media.

Women’s involvement in social sphere was also great. After working out the struggle of National Liberation, the problem of enlightenment arose, without which it would be impossible to unite the nation. It was decided that women could best solve the issue of education, so, at first, it was determined that women needed to be educated. All Around Eastern and Western Armenia schools for girls were opened. That was a powerful movement which was justified. After leaving schools, girls were founding organizations, 90 percent of which were in charge of educational affairs. These women left a huge trace on the history of education.

“The Century of Outstanding Women” breaks many stereotypes about Armenian women and female-male relationships, which have existed in our society for centuries. It browses dusty pages of our history: we can’t read this history in any textbook and there are few who are able to recount these stories. Unfortunately, we don’t recognize our outstanding women and, as long as we remain uninformed moving forward will be much slower and more difficult. It is time to learn and share the prominent Armenian women’s in history.

Anet Shamirian