Academics, politicians and leading activists from Armenia and the Diaspora gathered at the University of California on Saturday, December 4, 2010, to explore the 120 year history of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, one of the oldest and most influential political organizations in Armenian history.
Among the speakers was Maria Titizian, director of the Hrayr Maroukiian Foundation in Armenia, who explored the role of women in the ARF throughout its 120-year history in a presentation titled, “Women in the ARF: Past, Present & Future.”
Titizian, who is a Vice President of the Socialist International and serves as the ARF’s representative to the Socialist International Women, focused her presentation on three distinct time periods: the National Liberation Movement of the 1880s-1921; the exile from Soviet Armenia and the formation of Diasporan communities from 1921-1991; and the re-emergence of the party in Armenia after independence in 1991. Titizian also paid particular attention to the role played by ARF women in the creation of the ARF, the government of the First Armenian Republic, and the Karabakh liberation struggle.
Her presentation revealed a general absence of women in key decision-making bodies of the ARF, which she explained was a reflection of an Armenian reality in which men dominate in social and political life. Titizian underscored that gender inequality has “served as an impediment to democratization and development in the Republic of Armenia and to the deficiency of women’s perspectives, views, and experiences in the Diaspora.”
In concluding her presentation, she charted a course forward for the ARF, urging the party to lead the way to change by ensuring “the creation of a level playing field that will remove the subtle barriers to the advancement of women within its party structures.”
Ms. Titizian was also a feature speaker at the 3rd annual Armenians and Progressive Politics forum, at the Armenian Center in Hollywood on December 8, 2010, in a discussion on women’s issues in Armenia.
The forum, hosted by KPFK radio and organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, featured a critical discussion on gender equality, civil society, and women’s empowerment in Armenia lead by Socialist International Vice President Maria Titizian and Armenian Parliamentarian Lilit Galstyan.