Pledging for Parity: International Women’s Week at AUA

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YEREVAN, Armenia – The Center for Student Success and the International Women’s Week Committee (IWW) comprised of American University of Armenia (AUA) faculty, staff and students, organized a series of events around the AUA campus from March 7th-11th. The events stretched the commemoration of International Women’s Day, for a whole week. The global theme for International Women’s Day 2016 “Pledge for Parity” was promoted throughout the week, and was initially designed to help women worldwide advance in all spheres: economically, socially, culturally, and politically.

Nazeny Hovakimian, Coordinator of Student Services and Head of the International Women’s Week Committee quoted, “As soon as the committee was formed, the very first step to take was to decide on a theme for IWD events. The committee members voted for the IWD 2016 worldwide campaign theme: #PledgeForParity. We wanted to highlight that everyone is capable of taking a step to help achieve gender parity more quickly. The events were planned in a way to emphasize the role of women, to motivate female students in realizing their full potential, to make a call for respecting the rights of women, and helping people realize that Women’s day is not just about celebration, but about how we treat women and what we can do to make a change”.

The first day of Women’s Week at AUA was marked with a flash mob organized by the Undergraduate Armenian National Dance Club in the Cafeteria on campus. For half an hour, the members of the club took part in national Armenian dances where people joined, including AUA President Armen Der Kyureghian. Throughout the day, the AUA community was invited to express their ideas and pledge support for women either through a written message on the Pledge for Parity board (placed in the PAB entrance) or through a video message. The video messages were presented during the final event of the week, on March 11th.

The official debut of Womens Week took place in Manoogian Hall, where President Armen Der-Kyuerghian gave a welcoming remark. He spoke of the three prominent women in his life – his mother, his wife and his daughter and highlighted their roles in his life. He also incorporated the theme of the year, “Pledge for Parity”, mentioning the important role of women at AUA. Following, the AGBU Papazian Library prepared a book exhibition and a presentation of prominent women.

Students were active in assisting in the organization of IWW, like committee member Merry Artinian, an undergraduate student and representative from “The Bridge” student newspaper. She made a video-presentation about prominent Armenian women, including women from AUA as well. Throughout the whole week, the student newspaper “The Bridge” was active on social media about women within the scope of a project called AURA. The project is the 7th section of “The Bridge”, which entails a photo blog inspired by the popular “Humans of New York”, where photos of AUA community members are featured in a similar manner. For more information on AURA, please visit the Facebook page: .

The second day displayed “Powerful Women – Complex Lives”, where an interactive event took place on March 9th at The Green Bean on the AUA campus. Four successful women in various fields gathered at the Green Bean Cafe of AUA to openly share various experiences and advice. The women were: Madlene Minassian (Director of Consumption for PicsArt, Freshman English Instructor at the AUA, who partnered with numerous nonprofits to bring over 30 million USD of medical relief to Armenia), Lara Tcholakian (Human Resources Department Manager of VivaCell-MTS has two Masters and a Combined Honors degrees from various universities and is currently completing her Ph.D. at the Free University in Amsterdam in Business and Management), Arina Zohrabian (Worked at IREX as Country Director and Regional Education Manager, currently the Director of Admissions at AUA), and Lucineh Kassarjian (Country Director of Armenia Tree Project, Founder and CEO of Molorak Arts, Inc., Trustee at The Awesome Foundation and member of many other non-profit organizations). The aim of the meeting was to bring together the disparity between the genders and to empower women to reach their full potential in all spheres: socially, economically, philanthropically, and politically. For more details on the discussion, visit “The Bridge” student newspaper here:

The presentation on the third day, “A Mosaic of Single Stories”, was organized by AUA Adjunct Lecturer Hilda Grigorian. The presentation, followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A session, featured women who have made positive social impacts in business, education, governance, and other important and influential divisions in Armenia. The panelists were Shakeh Havan-Garapetyan (Entrepreneur and Director of Artbridge Bookstore-Café), Suzy Tahan (Syrian-Armenian Entrepreneur), and AUA Adjunct Lecturer Hrachuhi Barseghyan.

The final panel discussion “Women Empowering Women”, took place in the Akian Art Gallery on March 11th. Valentina Gevorgyan, Associate Researcher for the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS) Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis (TCPA) Program, coordinated a presentation about the Women Mentoring Program (WMP) in Armenia, on behalf of the AUA Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) Program, and in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan. Gevorgyan stated that by becoming a mentor or being mentored, participants become members of a community, and in a network of women who are committed to development of the entire country. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session and event was closed with the “Pledge for Parity” video. 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides US-style education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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