Friday, 11 April 2008

Karabakh women defend their rights for “gender self-determination”

A rare article by ArmeniaNow on gender equality and women rights in Karabakh. I post here my favourite extracts under the subheadings I created. Article in full is available here

Male Minister of Education fighting “morality war” and losing it
At the beginning of this school year principles in Stepanakert received a very strange order from Minister of Education Vadik Khachatryan forbidding female teachers from wearing trousers to work. The minister explained his oral instruction by a wish to ensure the teachers’ appropriate moral image.

But the teachers did not share the minister’s views on morality and declared that they are not going to follow his instructions. The order raised noisy protest and almost turned into scandal. The minister was taken aback and trying to justify himself said that he did not mean trousers, but meant provocative clothing.

It has never been clear what the minister intended, but it sure that he did not base his judgment on contemporary thought. Women in Karabakh have changed, having survived war, famine, bitterness of losses and equally shared all the hardships of post-war years with men.

Power women
Working as a business woman in Karabakh is no more a surprise to anybody. The National Assembly has 33 deputies, 4 of which are women. Two out of 11 minister’s chairs belong to women- Narine Azatyan is the Minister of Social Affairs, Narine Narimanyan is the Minister of Justice. About half of the judges are women.

Gender equality ≈ development of household appliances
Some people think that gender equality in any country depends on the development of household appliances.

“I used to waste all my free time from work on housework. I had to clean, cook, do the laundry by hand. My husband and I constantly argued. Now I have an electric meat grinder, washing machine, dish-washing machine. In other words, the same work that would take me my whole evening, takes me an hour now. I have spare time for fitness, Internet, and my husband and I even go out for a walk sometimes,” tells a nurse, Aida Adamyan.

Women rights NGO
In 2004 in Shushi Harmony NGO was founded. The founder Julietta Arustamyan says that the main goals of the organization is struggle for peace and women’s rights, Artsakh women’s spiritual and professional improvement, as well as organization of cultural leisure.

“We have a dream to open our own women’s center in Shushi where women could spend nice and useful time. It will be possible to get free psychological and legal consultation there, attend, say fitness club or dancing class, needlework class etc. Many of our women could have jobs at our center,” says Arustamyan.

“Given a desire” (I think “desire” is the key word here)
Svetlana Petrosyan has been heading a state institution in Stepanakert for many years.

“I have a family, but I can assure you that there are no barriers for women in Karabakh. Any woman is free to have a career, given a desire,” Petrosyan says.

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