Women in Armenia Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Armenia

Women in Armenia
Նոր Ջուղայի տարազ.jpg
An Armenian woman from New Julfa in national costume. From The Costumes of Armenian Women by Gregory Lima (Tehran, 1974)
General Statistics
Maternal mortality (per 100,000)30 (2010)
Women in parliament10.7% (2012)
Women over 25 with secondary education94.1% (2010)
Women in labour force59% (2014)[1]
Gender Inequality Index[2]
Value0.245 (2019)
Rank54th out of 162
Global Gender Gap Index[3]
Value0.673 (2021)
Rank114th out of 156

Women in Armenia have had equal rights, including the right to vote, since the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia. On June 21 and 23, 1919, the first direct parliamentary elections were held in Armenia under universal suffrage - every person over the age of 20 had the right to vote regardless of gender, ethnicity or religious beliefs. The 80-seat legislature, charged with setting the foundation for an Armenian state, contained three women deputies: Katarine Zalyan-Manukyan, Perchuhi Partizpanyan-Barseghyan and Varvara Sahakyan.[4][5]

The constitution of the current Republic of Armenia was adopted in 1991 and officially guarantees gender equality.[6] This has enabled women to actively participate in all spheres of Armenian life. Armenian women have attained prominence in entertainment, politics and other fields.

Work and business[edit]

Painting of an Armenian woman (circa 1682)

According to the 2011 Grant Thornton International business survey, 29% of top-level managerial positions in Armenia were occupied by women in 2010. However, this figure declined to 23% in 2011. Based on a report by the United Nations, there were 24 female mayors and community leaders in Armenia in 2011; a further 50 women held lower-level administrative positions.[7]

Traditional status[edit]

The view of ancient Armenian society and law as woman-friendly, presented by some Armenian intellectuals from the early 20th century to the present times, has been contested.[8] The law code of Mkhitar Gosh, dating to the 12th century, sought to raise women's status from its former level, however the code explicitly enshrined male domination and forbade divorce, even in the case of domestic violence or marital rape.[9] Its most progressive elements seem to have never been applied in society at large, and in the 18th and 19th centuries both outsider and insider reports overwhelmingly commented on the low status of women in traditional Armenian society. Married women lived as virtual slaves of their husbands' families, although the situation improved gradually with age.[10] During the first year of marriage, they were not permitted to speak to anyone except their husbands, and were forbidden from leaving the house. Young Armenian brides created a sign language called Harnseren, which translates to "Language of the Bride." It is a gesture based sign language that developed against the rule of silence imposed on married Armenian women.[11] In some villages, these restrictions continued even after the birth of the first child, and may have lasted more than ten years. Female suicide was more common than male suicide, in striking contrast to the situation in the West.[12]

In spite of the inferior position of women in Armenian society, the Armenian Apostolic Church allowed women greater opportunities for assuming clerical roles than most other Christian traditions. Unlike the Eastern Orthodox, however, they were strongly opposed to divorce, and as a result the divorce rate in traditional Armenia has always been among the lowest in the Christian world.

Violence against women[edit]

According to the World Health Organization, between 10% and 60% of Armenian women suffered domestic abuse and violence in 2002; the uncertainty of the data was due to the underreporting of domestic violence in Armenia. Underreporting is said to occur because of the treatment of domestic violence as a private family matter.[13] There are no well-established laws against domestic aggression and gender-based prejudice in Armenia. Furthermore, divorcing a husband – even an abusive one – causes "social disgrace", with the families of women who file for divorce or report domestic violence being considered to be shamed. Other contributing factors include Armenian women's lack of, or lower level of, education regarding their rights and how to protect themselves from abuse.[13]

Political status[edit]

In May 2007, through the legislative decree known as "the gender quota law", more Armenian women were encouraged to get involved in politics. That year, only seven women occupied parliamentary positions. Among these female politicians was Hranush Hakobyan, the longest-serving woman in the National Assembly of Armenia.[14] The relative lack of women in Armenia's government has led to Armenian women being considered "among the most underrepresented" and "among the lowest in the world" by foreign observers.[14] In addition, Armenian women's place in politics is often located in the private sphere. Often their entry in the public sphere is only valued when they reflect the image of the feminine ideal based on social expectations, which continue to put a barrier on the political, social, and economic accessibility for women.[15] In 2015, Arpine Hovhannisyan became the first Armenian Woman to hold the position of Justice Minister in Armenia, a role she held until 2017.[16][17] Hovhannisyan is also a politician and lawyer.[18]

Health and welfare[edit]

In 2010 and 2011, during Women's Month and as part of the "For You, Women" charitable program, the Surb Astvatcamayr Medical Center in the Armenian capital of Yerevan offered free gynecological and surgical services to the women of Armenia for a full month. Women from across the country arrived seeking treatment.[19]

Sex selective abortion[edit]

Sex selective abortion is reported as being a problem in the country, due to patriarchal social norms which consider having a son preferable to having a daughter.[20][21][22][23][24] Nevertheless, due to strong emigration under the form of "brain drain", where young Armenian men go abroad in search of work, there are more young women than men in the country, especially among those in their 20s: women make up 55.8% of the population aged 15–29.[25]


The oldest literary expression by Armenian women available to us today in writing is the poetry of two 8th-century CE women, Khosrovidukht of Goghtn and Sahakdukht of Syunik.[26] Following the Armenian literary renaissance of the 19th century, and the spread of educational opportunities for women, a number of other writers emerged, among them the 19th-century feminist writer Srpouhi Dussap, considered the first female Armenian novelist.[27] She, like her contemporary, Zabel Sibil Asadour, is generally associated with Constantinople and the Western Armenian literary tradition. Zabel Yesayan, also born in Constantinople, bridged the gap with Eastern Armenian literature by settling in Soviet Armenia in 1933. The literary renaissance and its accompanying voice of protest also had its representatives in the East with poet Shushanik Kurghinian(1876–1927) of Aleksandrapol (today, Gyumri). Sylvia Kaputikyan and Maro Markarian are probably the best-known women poets from the Republic of Armenia of the 20th century, and continued the tradition of political speech through poetry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Labor force participation rate, female (% of female population ages 15-64) (modeled ILO estimate) | Data". data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  2. ^ "Gender Inequality Index" (PDF). HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORTS. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  3. ^ "Global Gender Gap Report 2021" (PDF). World Economic Forum. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  4. ^ Badalyan, Lena (5 December 2018). "Women's Suffrage: The Armenian Formula". Chai Khana. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  5. ^ Harutyunyan, Anahit (8 March 2018). Առաջին խորհրդարանի (1919-1920) երեք կին պատգամավորները. ANI Armenian Research Center (in Armenian). Yerevan, Armenia: Armenian Research Center for Anteriology. Archived from the original on 4 May 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2019. Three female deputies of the first parliament (1919-1920)
  6. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Armenia - Library - The President of the Republic of Armenia". www.president.am. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  7. ^ Survey: Women In Armenia Forced Out From The Positions Of Top-Managers Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine. Economy: Arka News Agency.
  8. ^ Rowe, V. (2003). A History of Armenian Women's Writing, 1880-1922. Cambridge Scholars. p. 86. ISBN 9781904303237. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  9. ^ Payaslian, S. (2011). The Political Economy of Human Rights in Armenia: Authoritarianism and Democracy in a Former Soviet Republic. I.B.Tauris. p. 55. ISBN 9780857731692. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  10. ^ "Marriage and family - Armenians". everyculture.com. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  11. ^ Kekejian, Carla (2017-03-14). "Harsneren: Language of the Armenian Bride". Center for the Study of Women. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  12. ^ Reclus, J.J.É.; Ravenstein, E.G.; Keane, A.H. (1878). The earth and its inhabitants. The universal geography, ed. by E.G. Ravenstein (A.H. Keane). J.S. Virtue. p. 151. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  13. ^ a b Domestic Violence Against Women in Armenia. United Human Rights Council (UHRC). 26 May 2010.
  14. ^ a b Itano, Nicole. Quota Law Puts More Women in Armenia's Election. WeNews. 10 May 2007.
  15. ^ Beukian, Sevan, 2014, Motherhood as Armenianness: Expressions of Femininity in the Making of Armenian National Identity, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 14 (2):247-269
  16. ^ "Arpine Hovhannisyan Appointed Justice Minister of Armenia". Asbarez. 4 September 2015. Archived from the original on 29 January 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Armenia's justice minister sacked". Tert.am. 17 May 2015. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Arpine Hovhannisyan". National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  19. ^ Women in Armenia to Receive Free Medical Treatment for One Month. Epress.am. March 11, 2011.
  20. ^ "Fears grow over Caucasus selective abortions of girls - BBC News". bbc.com. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Gendercide in the Caucasus The Economist (September 13, 2013)
  23. ^ Michael, M; King, L; Guo, L; McKee, M; Richardson, E; Stuckler, D (2013), The mystery of missing female children in the Caucasus: an analysis of sex ratios by birth order, International perspectives on sexual and reproductive health, 39 (2), pp. 97-102, ISSN 1944-0391
  24. ^ John Bongaarts (2013), The Implementation of Preferences for Male Offspring, Population and Development Review, Volume 39, Issue 2, pages 185–208, June 2013
  25. ^ http://www.un.am/up/library/Labor%20Market_Armenia_eng.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  26. ^ Der-Hovanessian, Diana (2005). The Other Voice: Armenian Women's Poetry Through the Ages. Boston: AIWA Press, Armenian International Women's Association. ISBN 0964878747.
  27. ^ Արդի հայ գրականութիւն (Modern Armenian Literature). Beirut. pp. 134-138.

Further reading[edit]

  • Zakarian, David (2021). Women, Too, Were Blessed: The Portrayal of Women in Early Christian Armenian Texts. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-44441-6.

External links[edit]