French Parliamentarian to Address AIWA Conference

BOSTON, Mass.—Valerie Boyer, a deputy in the French National Assembly who has spearheaded legislation to criminalize denial of the Armenian Genocide, heads the list of distinguished speakers who will participate in the 7th International Conference of the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA).

Valerie Boyer
Valerie Boyer

Under the general theme “Armenian Women in Action: Building Communities Across the Globe,” the conference will be held in Yerevan, Armenia, on Oct. 9-12.

In recognition of the centennial next year of the Armenian Genocide, the first full day of the conference, Oct. 10, will explore new perspectives on the role of Armenian women during the genocide, as well as the lingering effects that followed. Italian-Armenian scholar and writer Antonia Arslan, author of the best-selling novel about the genocide, Skylark Farm, is one of several distinguished speakers on this topic. The day will end with a visit to the Dzidzernagapert Genocide Memorial, to place a wreath at the genocide monument and tour the museum with its director, Hayk Demoyan.

Other speakers on the first day include Fethiye Cetin from Istanbul, author of the groundbreaking book My Grandmother, which opened a discussion in Turkey about Islamized women survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Cetin, who is the lawyer for the Dink Foundation, has been in the news recently for her criticism of the Turkish government’s role in the investigation of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. She will be joined by her associate, Ayse Gul Altinay, in a discussion about “Women’s Memories: Uncovering the Silence about Islamized Armenians.”

The second full day of the conference will focus on Armenian women in policy-making, entrepreneurial, social, and health issues. Among the presenters is the internationally recognized authority on women’s health, Judy Norsigian, who will moderate a panel on “Meeting Challenges in Women’s Health.” Other presenters include Vahan Zanoyan, author of the highly acclaimed novel about trafficking, A Place Far Away, and human rights activists Sarah Leah Whitson and Alexandra Pitman.

Antonia Arslan
Antonia Arslan

Several non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) have been invited to provide models for what can be accomplished in a panel on “NGO’s in Action in Armenia.” Culture will also be on the agenda that day, with a stage reading followed by a discussion of the new play, “Women of Ararat,” by Judith Boyajian. Ottoman-Armenian author Zabel Yessayan, whose works were recently been published in English by AIWA in two volumes (Gardens of Silihdar and My Soul in Exile), is one of the authors featured in a panel on Women in Literature.

Sunday morning will open with an AIWA organizational meeting, open to the public, designed to provide an opportunity for affiliates in different areas to get together to discuss current programs and future plans. There will also be an optional excursion to the Armenian Church Mother Cathedral in Etchmiadzin. Lunch will be followed by a conference Wrap-Up, with the focus on “Looking Ahead.” The conference will end with a Closing Banquet on Sunday evening.

Prior to the official beginning of the conference, participants will be welcomed on Friday evening, Oct. 9, by Hranush Hakobyan, Armenia’s Minister of Diaspora, at a Gala Opening Reception at the Valensia Restaurant Complex. The first day’s session will be held in the Conference Hall of the Armenia Government Building in Republic Square. Subsequent sessions will take place in the Manoogian Hall of the American University of Armenia.

AIWA’s international conferences are designed to examine the evolving status of Armenian women and develop strategies for the future in the fields of government, the economy, business and finance, health, education, communication, culture, and the arts. Beginning with the first AIWA conference in London in 1994 and continuing in Paris (1994), Yerevan (2000), Geneva (2004), Buenos Aires (2008), and San Francisco (2011), AIWA’s conferences have become noted for their stimulating presenters and discussions, and especially for the opportunities to interact with a diverse international network of Armenian and non-Armenian women.

For details regarding the conference program, speakers, and activities, visit All sessions are open to the public. To register, write to the AIWA office (65 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472), call (617) 926-0171, visit, or e-mail


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Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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