8 March: International Women's Day

The International Women's Day is a widely celebrated holiday in many countries of the former Soviet Union. Girls and women get a lot of gentle gifts (mostly flowers and chocolate) and even more gentle words for being "such beautiful wifes, mothers and daughters". At the same time, women all over the world - including the post Sovier countries - face everyday discrimination in many spheres of life.

 

I want to share with you a comment that one of my friends posted in February 2018 on Facebook. Actually, it is an answer on a comment of another user. But the message of his text is so strong even without the context. It shows that the fight for women's rights is to a large extent also a fight against the priviliges of men. Hopefully, in a not so distant future, I will be able to tell my daughters and nieces that March 8 is the day where we celebrate the realization of equal life realities for men and women!

 

"Dear David, I might have not wanted to respond you as this is a very personal question, which you ask in a very indelicate way as if you don't care about my answer. If you, however, genuinely want to know, listen! My mother has studied 10 years to become a doctor. After her marriage, however, she did not work for 20 years because my father did not allow it. Is this enough violence for you - being forced to give up your career against your will? Having no job, thus, no income, she should've relied only on the money provided by my father. This means you don't do what you want, you don't go where you want and you don't buy what you want, because you don't have your own money. You cannot decide to rebel or leave, because you cannot afford it. Is this enough of psychological or economic violence to you?
My grandmother married at the age of 17, was systematically harassed by her mother-in-law, serving the husband, the entire family and the whole bunch of relatives and friends, working from 06 AM to 11 PM every day. Is this enough violent for you?
My sisters, like most of the girls in Armenia, are often afraid to walk on the streets alone, because they might appear in a situation where somebody is chasing them, commenting how they look or what they wear. In Armenia, few would physically attack or harass but the fact that they fear to go out, fear to be commented is already a psychological disaster. Is this enough violence for you or rape is the only type of violence we know. Have you ever felt worried to travel or visit the places you like? If not, you probably don't understand living with the idea of something to happen to you and don't think twice before you decide what to wear and where to go. 
My female friends very often are subjected to psychological violence by their brothers, fathers, husbands, even mothers for their choices, behaviors, simply for exercising their freedoms. I know multiple stories when they had to call the police because they were followed until home, blackmailed by phone and even threatened to death? Is this enough violent? Have you ever been followed and threatened? Did anyone try to touch you in the public transport or make a joke about your body? Too skinny, too fat, too big, too small, too light, too dark, too short, too long...never perfect. Probably not, so you don't understand what it means.
Now I don't really want to take this even further but I would advice you a simple thing that I try to follow myself: Whenever you feel like criticizing someone or asking those types of questions you asked me, just remember, not all the people in this world had the advantages and privileges you had.
Being a man in Armenia, being a man everywhere, as such, is a privilege and power. It's a privilege that both me and you enjoy and will enjoy throughout our lives. It's a power and privilege which we can use either to transform and change things to the better or live a privileged life dis-empowering people around us and ignoring these power imbalances. I choose not to be blind and silent about issues that women in my family, in my surrounding and in my society face daily. It's your choice to ignore the same realities in your workplace or surrounding. The fact you don't see them, doesn't mean they do not exist. This is all I can say and I do not intend to engage in any further debate on this!!!"


Girls in Armenia at first day of school
Where does the journey go?