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WOMEN IN POLITICS: RULING STEREOTYPES

Lilit Kochinyan

“Political Participation of Women in the Elections for the Local Territorial Administration Bodies: Problems and Perspectives” is an attempt to understand the inner reasons of women’s political participation and real reasons of self-withdrawal.

 The research done by Hasmik Shapaghatyan and Lusine Poghosyan is mainly based on in- depth interviews with all 18 head’s of community and as well with 3 women who rejected from the post.

 “Started from childhood we have different parenting approaches based on gender. We tell boys not to cry and demand being modest for girls”, - said Shapaghatyan.

 Lusine Poghosyan thinks that many women leaders still suffer from law self esteem.

 The research underlined two main reasons hindering women's political participation. “Gender stereotypes and social- economic factor, financial independence are the main challenges for women”, said Shapaghatyan.

 “One of the community leaders told us that her son just moved from the village, because of her decision: to nominate for the position of community leader. According to her son, her mother is misbehaving, because “politics is not for women”, how she can participate in the meetings where mainly men are present”.

 Lena Nazaryan, representative of “Transparence international anticorruption center” conducted meetings in the regions with the mission to raise awareness about the importance of self-governance. During the discussions she revealed that women found hard to stand for their own idea, get involved in the discussions.

 “We saw many young women who refused to nominate on the position of community leader, or the community council member. They were afraid of the reaction from their family members, friends, etc.  Even during our meeting there was a case when a woman just refused to enter the meeting place, because the majority of the audience was men”.

 ArpineKhachatryan a young activist from Prosperous Armenia political party is from Sarnaghbyur village. During last elections, she was full of enthusiasm to nominate for the community council, but her mother was against it and Apine changed her mind.

 “Today I am more self confident, so I am ready for the next elections”, said Arpine Khachatryan

 The researchers claim, investing quota system in local self-governed bodies is one of the best ways out.“Quota is one of the first and necessary steps, that should be done”, says Hasmik Shapaghatyan,” Unless we will not have enough women representation on local bodies, it is too early to speak about overcoming cultural stereotypes”.

 While government with the support of several international organizations is working on the investment of quota system, on March 15 new elections will take place for the local self-government bodies in 33 communities of Armenia. Women candidates’ representation is still low - 9%: from 134 citizens nominated for the posts, only 12 are women.