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WE ARE THE CHANGE MAKERS

Anushik Avetyan

33 years old Olya Azatyan is a feminist from Armenia, Yerevan. She works in British Embassy in Yerevan. She has studied in Armenia, then continued education abroad: United Kingdom, France. Her background is Humanities with concentration on Public Policy Planning. Now Olya, the one who is actively engaged in the issues, advocate and campaign for Feminism.

Olya Azatyan says, that her father made her feminist. “When I was young, my father brought a lot of friends and what I saw regularly my mother would prepare a table for my father’s guests and she would go to other room and do her house works or just sit, read book. I started to question my father: why you have your friends there and she can not join you at the table at least to eat, why she is serving you,- says Olya, adding, that later her mother confessedthat by questioning she would break down her family. “Keeping their families, they destroy their lives”,- says Olya Azatyan.

Olya’s life is a big straggle against gender stereotypes. Her all stories about gender are based on the examples, which Olya faced during her cognitive life.

Stereotypes at school

Olya Azatyan highlights three main stereotypes, which faces girl, while attending to schools. Boys are given priority. - Whenever there is a need to solve a problem in mathemathics, physics, chemistry, whenever there are competition for that subjects, boys are coming forward and whenever boys like humanities, history, languages and literature, they think, this is a weak and subordinate are and teachers bring forward girls.  

Boys are future leaders-  We have very stupid expression- «pashtonakan ayrer/պաշտոնական այրեր», which means official men.

Heroism has men “face”- In the school we always have the names of heroes and I do not remember there was any woman hero, while we have a lot of women heroes, like Shushanik Kurghinyan, Srbuhi Tyusab.  Olya acclaims, that the most funny part  is that the majority teachers of Armenian teachers and headmasters are women. She says, they teachers actually reproducing male and musculine culture brining forward all these stereotpes, which then works agains them.

Women as a Mother

Olya Azatyan thinks that being a mother in Armenian culture is not limited by raising the child. “You have to do the cleaning, cooking and bringing up the children and then if  you have a time, go and work, if the husband allows. You were under pressure in your family, you came and were not able to do this transition to build your next stage of your life”,- says Olya Azatyan, adding, that those women allow men to put pressure on them, including domestic violence.

“The survey which we did severel years ago, shows that 75% of the divorces were after the woman got a job and became self sustainable. It was very good indicator for us”,- acclaims Olya Azatyan. Azatyan is sure, that having job women become more independent. “When she is earning money she can decide how her future life is, because usually at the age of 40 or after 40 women start to understand where they are and they look for some channels of being free from their own life”,- says Olya.

Olya Azatyan confesses, that breaking stereotype is not a easy issue. “I think we need 600 years to overcome this stereotypes, because this is in our blood, and we are injected this masculine culture. I have a lot of problems, starting in my family and  among my friends. Especiialy my job is that, that in majority of  cases  I find myself the only woman in the room working with men, whenever I want to comment something political for example, then people look at me very scheptically. Is she debating with us? And whatever she says, is that valid? It willdefinitely take 600 years...we need seriously work to break all those stereotypes, especcially women I think to work with women, understand where is the problem and they can do, because they are basicly the change makers, we are the change makers, men are not better than we are, and we are not worse, than men. This concept has to be advocated”

Speaking about stereotypes is mentioning that women drivers are in issue to be discussed. “I have been struggling with my family to have a car, since I was 19. I knew driving, my father learned me driving, but they were saying you cant drive,.. But boys whenever they are born are gone to garage with parents and start driving”,- says Olya, mentioning that it is a myth women should not really drive a car or women drive a car horribly,- there are good and bad drivers among women and the same among men. Now I am videotypeing all horrible driving that men are doing and I will publish it next month, I have small camera, in my camera attached. Everyday I meet about 5 men who are horribly driving and who are horribly parking, but because women are few, it is more visible”.

P.S

There are a lot of work left to be done, but still I see my parents are progessing correctly in terms of understanding that they have a daughter, that she know what she wants first of all: she wants to be indeptendent, she wants to be her own master. These are my biggest achievements in my life and in feminism. My father now has changed a lot, my families approaches as well. Therefore, if I can change something in my family, it means I can make a change in society.