At the end of last week, 28-29 September, we went to Artik in Shirak Region to hold a Civic Forum. The Forum was held at the Northern University of Artik with students as well as with active young women from Artik and neighboring villages. The aim was to raise
awareness on women’s role in peace building, raise their participation in public activities and to introduce the Women in Black movement (WiB).
The first day started with an introduction of SWV’s work and the history and aim of WiB.
It continued with brainstorming and discussions on gender roles in Armenia. The students and activists were also taught about different types of conflict, which the participants were later doing a role play of.
The role plays were very entertaining (and generated lots of laughs) educative and helpful.
The participants were presented to women’s roles in conflict resolution, which resulted in some intense discussions on gender roles, some being of the opinion that women cannot be a part of conflict resolution.
I found it good, however, that the topic raised opinions and emotions among the participants and also led to discussions (which of course is a way of solving conflicts…).
The second day of the Forum had focus on the project that will be carried through by the participants on October 13. They got some training in basic project management, and were afterwards drawing up their own suggestions on a project related to women in peace building. The three project proposals were integrated into one; they will hold a demonstration in the square in Artik, holding posters and writing phrases in their palms, and also perform a play on gender roles. This event will be a part of the WiB movement.
My impression from the Civic Forum in Artik is first and foremost the immense differences from Yerevan; I could tell that it is a lot more stereotypical and conservative mentality compared to Yerevan. It was rather noticeable when we got weird looks for being three young women eating out in a restaurant on our own, or being told, when asking for the way to a bar, that we probably shouldn’t go there since it would be considered very strange. Apparently, the work for breaking stereotypes is of great importance to carry out in the regions.
Annika Andersson, SWV Internttp://annikaandersson.swv.am/