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Armenian Feminists Respond to ‘Global Armenians’ Ad in the New York Times

The below open letter and pledge were developed by a group of Armenian feminists residing in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Armenia in response to a full page ad underwritten by the IDeA Foundation of Armenia (www.idea.am) that ran in the New York Times on Oct. 28. (The text of the ad and the list of its signatories can be found here: https://auroraprize.com/en/news/detail/10454/the-future-for-all-armenians-is-now)

A part of the full page ad underwritten by the IDeA Foundation of Armenia that ran in the New York Times on Oct. 28.

Over 80 Armenian feminists, both women and men, from Armenia and throughout the Armenian diaspora, decried the gender disparity in the “Global Armenians” advertisement signatories list, which they see as symptomatic of the sidelining of women in Armenian communal institutions. The New York Times ad was signed by 22 men and one woman. As a means to address the ongoing exclusion and tokenism represented by the ad, and which they say is endemic in Armenian organizations around the world, the feminists pledged to condition their involvement in Armenian community forums on the presence of other women.

Those who signed the pledge come from a variety of professions and hail from cities ranging from Los Angeles, Toronto, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and Yerevan. Among the signers are prominent feminist activists from Armenia, including Lara Aharonian and Maro Martosian; producer and actor Arsinee Khanjian and filmmaker Atom Egoyan from Canada; novelist Chris Bohjalian, human rights leader Sarah Leah Whitson, journalist Lara Setrakian and photographer Scout Tufankjian from the U.S.; and Berlin-based artist Silvina Der Meguerditchian. Academics from the U.S., U.K., and France are heavily represented.

Rachel Goshgarian (U.S.), one of the signers who also helped draft the feminist statement, said: “Both women and men play integral parts in Armenian communities, but it’s too rare that we see women in important leadership roles within our community organizations and too often that we see women being ‘invited’ to contribute as token members of our community and then barely listened to or heard.”

“I think it is high time this issue of excluding Armenian women was called out because despite past criticism about the gender imbalance in Armenian circles, things are getting worse,” Armine Ishkanian (U.K.) stated.

Below is the text of the letter:

***

On Oct. 28, a full-page advertisement appeared in the New York Times claiming to represent “Global Armenians” and sounding a call for unified action.  It was signed by 22 men and one woman.  Armenian women are leaders, thinkers, artists, teachers, and philanthropists around the world, but with one exception, these women were not among its signatories. While it is an open letter and invites others to join, the discrepancy in participation between men and women cannot be ignored. The letter itself calls upon the government of Armenia to adopt “strategies based on inclusiveness and collective action,” but the process of drafting and publishing the letter should have modeled those same ideals. In an effort towards preventing this kind of exclusion and tokenism, we the undersigned pledge to condition our involvement in Armenian community forums on the participation of other women. One is not enough.

Signatories (as of Nov. 1):

  • Nancy Agabian (U.S.)
  • Liana Aghajanian (U.S.)
  • Lara Aharonian (Armenia)
  • Michael Aram (U.S.)
  • Nora Armani (U.S.)
  • Sophia Armen (U.S.)
  • Mika Artyan (U.K.)
  • Sebouh Aslanian (U.S.)
  • Shushan Avagyan (Armenia)
  • Lily Balian (U.S.)
  • Dr. Karen Babayan (U.K.)
  • Peter Balakian (U.S.)
  • Houri Berberian (U.S.)
  • Nvair Beylerian (U.S.)
  • Zarmine Boghosian (U.S.)
  • Eric Bogosian (U.S.)
  • Chris Bohjalian (U.S.)
  • Vicken Cheterian (Switzerland)
  • Silvina Der Meguerditchian (Germany)
  • Lerna Ekmekcioglu (U.S.)
  • Atom Egoyan (Canada)
  • Ayda Erbal (U.S)
  • Sarah Ignatius (U.S.)
  • Armine Ishkanian (U.K.)
  • Anna K. Gargarian (Armenia)
  • Olga Ghazaryan (U.K.)
  • Carina Karapetian Giorgi (U.S.)
  • Rachel Goshgarian (U.S.)
  • Houry Geudelikian (U.S.)
  • Ani Ross Grubb (U.S.)
  • Veken Gueyikian (U.S.)
  • JoAnn Janjigian (U.S.)
  • Dr. Ani Kalayjian (U.S.)
  • Sossie Kasbarian (U.K.)
  • Silva Katchigian (U.S.)
  • Maral Kerovpyan (France)
  • Virginia Pattie Kerovpyan (France)
  • Shushan Kerovpyan (France)
  • Arsinee Khanjian (Canada)
  • Ani Kharajian (U.S.)
  • Taline Kochayan (France)
  • Dickran Kouymjian (France)
  • Lola Koundakjian (U.S.)
  • Stefanie Kundakjian (France)
  • Nancy Kricorian (U.S.)
  • Marc Mamigonian (U.S.)
  • Armen Marsoobian (U.S.)
  • Maro Matosian (Armenia)
  • Markar Melkonian (U.S.)
  • Barbara Merguerian (U.S.)
  • Muriel Mirak-Weissbach (Germany)
  • Khatchig Mouradian (U.S.)
  • Joanne Randa Nucho (U.S.)
  • Carolyn Rapkievian (U.S.)
  • Aline Ohanesian (U.S.)
  • Ara Oshagan (U.S.)
  • Susan Pattie (U.K.)
  • Jennifer Phillips (U.S.)
  • Nelli Sargsyan (U.S.)
  • Judith Saryan (U.S.)
  • Elyse Semerdjian (U.S.)
  • Lara Setrakian (U.S.)
  • Anna Shahnazaryan (Armenia)
  • Tamar Shirinian (U.S.)
  • Jason Sohigian (U.S.)
  • Ronald Grigor Suny (U.S.)
  • Anoush F. Terjanian (U.S.)
  • Lori Megerdichian Terrizzi (U.S.)
  • Karina Totah (U.S.)
  • Sara Janjigian Trifiro (U.S.)
  • Khachig Tololyan (U.S.)
  • Scout Tufankjian (U.S.)
  • Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte (U.S.)
  • Anahid Ugurlayan (U.S.)
  • Hrag Vartanian (U.S.)
  • Nicole Vartanian  (U.S.)
  • Dana E. Walwrath (U.S.)
  • Seta White (U.K.)
  • Sarah Leah Whitson (U.S.)
  • Lilit Yenokyan (U.S.)
  • Linda Yepoyan (U.S.)
  • Meldia Yesayan (U.S)
  • Houry Youssoufian (U.S.)

25 Comments on Armenian Feminists Respond to ‘Global Armenians’ Ad in the New York Times

  1. Armenian women should thank their lucky stars that nobody asked them to participate in this travesty. The entire statement is debacle from start to finish. First, they misrepresented it by announcing that it was published in the NYT when it is clearly paid advertising, proving that they are not honest brokers. Furthermore, never once did the original signatories of men even hint that the cause of Armenia’s pending demise is due to mass emigration, caused by economic hardship and social decay, which are rooted in systemic corruption, abuse of human rights, and absence of Rule of Law. Armenia’s government leaders have squandered vast amounts of foreign resources on their own self interest and gain, which ultimately prompted Kirk Krikorian to withdraw from supporting Armenia. It’s clear that these self-proclaimed high profile men are clueless about foreign investing 101, which requires the preconditions of a stable economy, reliable workforce and political stability. These ego-driven signatories are blatantly trying to gain visibility and expand power and privilege by using other people’s money to enrich themselves. For them to publicly pin the blame on their fellow Diasporans only proves their contempt for us, not to mention their arrogance and false sense of superiority. On the contrary, they are a disgrace to honest, intelligent Armenians everywhere. So ladies, be proud and relieved that nobody thought you low enough to sign on.

  2. I am gravely disappointed and hurt that the above signatories are not taking issue with the diversionary contents of the Open Letter they are concerned about. That should be the priority issue of the day, as the Open Letter obfuscates and projects onto a Diaspora (that has been prevented from aiding Armenia) what the sitting mafia regime itself has done and is doing to Armenia.

    • avatar Sosy Kevonian // November 6, 2016 at 10:55 am //

      WELL SAID KATRINA!!!! YOU SEEM VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE SITUATION IN OUR HOME COUNTRY. BRAVA!!!!

  3. The signatories are not contesting the contents of the initial scandalous letter written by those who since 1991 have either subtly or directly supported all three illegitimate Armenian administrations.

    They simply want to add their names to the letter itself for notoriety and self-promotion.

    Who needs enemies when you have such Armenians.

  4. Thank you for this article.

    I hope no one doubts the talents of Armenian women. They are vastly talented and contribute immeasurably to the Armenian nation.

    But I thought that the main problem with the original NY Times ad was that it was boring and virtually meaningless. It said very little of substance.

    So if women had signed the original ad, they would have had to answer for its vacuousness.

    One more point, and though this is just my opinion, original NY Times ad signatory Ed Ejerejian, a former US ambassador to Syria and Israel, is not really a friend of Armenians.
    I consider him to be more a friend of Turkey.
    Please, don’t believe me.
    Just look up his past statements about Armenian issues in the Armenian Weekly and elsewhere. Google them.

  5. avatar sylvie tertzakian // November 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm // Reply

    excellent letter, that may motivate the men to reconsider the exclusion of women. I add my voice to this letter. sylvie tertzakian, u.s.a.

  6. avatar lucy melkonian // November 1, 2016 at 8:17 pm // Reply

    We are alive we will survive! we are the seeds that they tried to bury!

  7. Why do the response signatories want to be amongst the “Global Armenians” signatories? Presumably they do, otherwise why are they protesting about being sidelined? Global Armenians sound like just another “the best way to be united is to all unite and agree with what we say” setup.

  8. The saying goes: Men may be the head of the family but women are the neck. Support the head to move, think and connect to the rest of the body.

  9. avatar Nara Matinyan // November 2, 2016 at 1:45 am // Reply

    Interesting. Out of 83 signatories, there are only 3 from Armenia, and 2 of them are Diasporan Armenians. In the same logic, we may say, that the women from Armenia aren’t represented in anything concerning the future of Armenia. Aren’t there Armenian women who are thinkers, leaders, artists, teachers, philosophers from Armenia?

  10. I’m joining the Armenian feminist respond and their protest against gender (women) exclusive politics in forming “Global Armenians” document

  11. avatar Nina Hovnanian // November 2, 2016 at 5:08 am // Reply

    I want to sign!

  12. I was in Lebanon recently and had this conversation with couple of very astute and strong Armenian Women, and would you believe the subject was the same issue. Armenian women are leaders in their professions and chosen fields everywhere and they have made a name for themselves individually but in our political life as leaders they are not represented not even One percent. Interestingly, Norway, has decided that the Norwegian parliament must consist of 50/50 man and women. How come for example, that the ARF and the other political parties in the Diaspora and in Armenia but especially so in the Diaspora, one never sees a woman as a leader. For example, i have never seen a woman leader in the ARF leadership, or the Hentchag party or the the Ramgavar party. How come? To say that the men who are leading these parties are cleverer or smarter than the Armenian Women we have today around the world is absolute nonsense. Our leaders must really think about this and change their ATITUDE. As a man, I have always found that our women are incredibly talented, strong and when given the opportunity, I believe that our politics and the way we lead both in the Diaspora and in Armenia will be very interesting and and it will give the real representation of Armenian people.

  13. And how may we join the list?

  14. avatar Yeghia Tashjian // November 2, 2016 at 4:40 pm // Reply

    not a single one from Middle East

  15. avatar Margarita Hakobyan // November 3, 2016 at 10:04 am // Reply

    Gender equality is very important in Armenia.
    Armenian women’s potential , intelligence and involvement should be highly considered in shaping global future of Armenia.

  16. avatar vart adjemian // November 4, 2016 at 1:38 pm // Reply

    Very disappointing and frustrating.
    It is becoming a discussion of gender equality. Undoubtedly and undeniably women have played extremely important roles in our history, in Armenia and the Diaspora, and continue to do so. The ARS membership is all women and they have distinguished members and very capable and dedicated leadership.
    My personal view and concern is that these paid for ads do not make any meaningful contribution to the Armenian cause or the welfare of Armenians in Armenia. It makes a lot of noise but achieves nothing other than the discussion it generated in this instance.
    In this case it was a paid ad primarily a publicity for the AGBU. It brings up the following questions:
    1- Who are the “Global Armenians” ?
    2- Who do they represent?
    3- What are their objectives?
    4- What are they trying to achieve?
    5- What is their message ? What action are they proposing?
    Whether you sign such a document or not means absolutely nothing. It is what you do that counts.

    Vart Adjemian

    • 1. Who knows?
      2. Themselves.
      3. Not very clear.
      4. 15 minutes of fame.
      5. I can’t figure out from their ad. Nothing specific.

      {…means absolutely nothing. It is what you do that counts.}

      You nailed it, Sir.

  17. avatar arpy chapuljian // November 4, 2016 at 2:09 pm // Reply

    I would like to have had the opportunity to sign this pledge. However here in Syria we have more pressing issues to be concerned with.

  18. Armenian women were fedayees.

    I see Armenian women all the time in all sorts of Armenian organizations. They are quite prominent, and they are often leaders.
    Let’s not pretend otherwise.
    I would like to see ALL Armenians involved in Armenian political lobbying in the Diaspora and elsewhere.
    If more women wish to be in those political organizations, they should join.
    Let’s not get into the American feminist frame of mind where women are always complaining about being victims even when they outshine men.

  19. They could have spent the money they paid to NYT on the kids in Armenian villages who miss their schools because they don’t have shoes. And signatories?? One of them is a partner of Serge Sarkisyan’s son-in-law, owner of the PanArmenian Media, a propaganda outlet that usurped TV licenses in Armenia to brainwash Armenian people. Another one has been a proud enabler of the local regime and corrupt Catholicos, another was a functionary in Kocharyan government, which robbed Armenia blind. These are global Armenians? Give me a break, please!!

  20. What is this on about??

    Too bad (both) articles like this surface.

    The AGBU claim: Fail
    The response from “feminists”: Fail

    Glad to see the rock throwing is alive though. That’s exactly what Armenia needs huh? This is just a typical leftist melee, using the name and at the expense of an innocent nation.

    And why is the western globalist political propaganda word of “feminist” used in the first place? Is that supposed to be a ‘positive’ term? Such a sexist word, imagine how the “masculinists” must feel. Western Feminism does not apply to Armenia and Armenian Culture – it never did, and hopefully never will. You need to find another term.

    Respecting, encouraging and treating women equally is not ‘feminism’. It may have started out that way at one time, but in the west today, ‘feminism’ has very little to do with equality for women any more. What Western Feminism has become is, divisiveness, leftist political ideology bordering on the insane, disrespect of family traditions, and steering women towards the dead end of humanity. And western morals are living proof of this. So if you really love Armenia, keep your dirty laundry in your own country, and find something else to help Armenia with.

  21. Diaspora Armenian feminists publish a response and ask people to undersign a petition. (see the last sentence in Mr. Vart Adjemian’s post above).

    Armenian women in Armenia, meanwhile, are in fact doing something that counts.
    [Իմ բանակը. Հայուհիների բանակը]
    [My Army. The Army of Armenian women] (in Armenian)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATCdiu4i1ZA

    Listen to the young Armenian women of Armenia in the video, and make your choice: sign a petition that means what? Or…..see the video.

  22. Sounds like yet another Soros-funded operation…

  23. A Dollar a WEEK from every Armenian will help resolve many Financial issues in Armenia/Arstakh and why not Diaspora. Recently, a friend came from a visit to Armenia who lives there six months a year, every year during the past twenty years. He said, we, in Armenia are going backward and the people are getting even poorer than what they used to be.Armenia owes international banks six Billion dollars and I do not believe that in current circumstances in the world anything better waiting for our little country. One more long war we are done. Sixty years ago, in the USA, one Armenian Lady stood up and declared that no Armenian child should go hungry in the Middle-East especially in Syria and Lebanon. And the ladies of ARS Swung into action and created the idea and the “PURPOSE” to feed thousands of children every day in Armenian schools. I was one of them. The leadership of one woman created the Idea of the “bnag me geragour yev kavat me gat”. Who can forget. I grew up being fed by ARS and In Lebanon LOKH ladies Lunch every school day and a glass of milk every morning. I am asking this question to all those Armenian Women and Men that “how come” we are not thinking along these lines. How come we don’t have one crazy woman or a man coming up with this kind of crazy idea to change things, to change circumstances of the people in our country and in the Diaspora especially so in Syria and Lebanon. Yes we are more educated, we are wealthier than what we use to be 50-60 years ago, so where are we going wrong? Who is going to pay the six billion dollar dept ?
    I know we have brilliant people everywhere but it seems to me We Are Going Backward. Lets think out of the box. ONE DOLLAR A WEEK FROM EVERY ARMENIAN WILL GENERATE 450 MILLION DOLLAR A YEAR. Lets think out of the box. Lets be crazy a bit.

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