Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gender Activism meets Environmental Activism meets Queer Activism: all in one day and all in Yerevan

The “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” annual campaign kicked off today with a press conference followed by a march organized by the Women’s Resource Center in central Yerevan.

Highlights of today’s march include

*Women (and a few men) carrying huge posters that read “Don’t be Silent” while informing participants that this is a silent march (I find out from one of the organizers that part of the reason, anyway, for the silence is that it was a condition on getting a city permit. The mayor wanted confirmation from the Women’s Resource Center that they wouldn’t disrupt the peace. Can you believe it?)

*Famous Armenian environmental activist Mariam Sukhudyan (of SOS Teghut, though also known for voicing her concern that staff mistreated and abused children at a special needs school in Armenia; see here for more info and here and here) peeling off sticker paper with violence against women stats on it that WRC volunteers and march participants had stuck on trees (being instructed to sticker everywhere and anywhere). To her credit, Mariam had a calm, peaceful smile on her face while removing the stickers. I understand her reasoning, of course, the sticker paper harms the trees. And it seems volunteers were either unaware of that or too engaged in the purpose of their act to notice.

*Meeting one of the followers of my blog: yay, Trui! And welcome to Yerevan (I don’t think I offered a proper greeting upon meeting you, so here it is, in my blog, where you could say, we first met :)

*Meeting a fellow queer Armenian woman who’s been trying to get in contact with those of us behind the Queering Yerevan blog for some time. I love happenstance encounters!

*Meeting another fellow queer Armenian who’s had quite the presence in the blogosphere as of late, but seeing as we didn’t have too much of a chance to talk (and not knowing how much he would like to be outed here in this blog), I won’t go into too much detail other than to be glad that I had a chance to meet him in person today.

All in all, I feel quite energized from these encounters and from this, albeit solemn, affair. I commend the organizers of the march for a well-organized event.