Confronting Feminism in Armenia

Author: Aren Melikyan


As children, Lusine Hovhannisyan and her friends loved playing “the office,” they would set up desks and take turn to be “the CEO.” Her favourite name was Arthur, her sister’s Ararat. It was always a man because “a CEO could not be a woman.” Over 15 years, and an argument with a friend, later Lusine was pushed to reflect about women’s rights.

Growing up in the village of Zvartnots, the 24-year-old always felt different from other girls - her views over what she, as a girl, could like or aspire to were distinct. Why was it odd to play football? Why was she frowned down upon if she rode a bicycle? When she moved it took her to travel the ten kilometres between Zvartnots and Armenia’s capital Yerevan, where she enrolled in university, to understand the extent of how deeply rooted gender stereotypes are. Soon, books about women’s rights and sexuality replaced "boyish" games in Lusine’s life.

While studying for her master’s degree in political science at the American University of Armenia she did her first research about feminism - it was the first of a long series. Along the way she has inspired friends to look at men and women from a new perspective.