YEREVAN — Let’s do a small experiment: in less than 10 seconds, how many prominent Armenian women can you name? Now, let’s do the same with prominent Armenian men. I couldn’t hear your answers but I will go on a limb and say you named more men than women.
Inspired by the book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and driven by deep-seated anger at the lack of recognition for Armenian women, the authors of the children’s book Armenian Wonderwomen, Gayane Aghabalyan and Elma Ayvazyan, embarked on a mission to change this and create their own empowering anthology. Through this book, they sought to highlight the remarkable achievements of Armenian women throughout history.
“We were truly angry that there were so many wonderful Armenian women, and we didn’t know about them, so that put us on a quest to find more women,” Aghabalyan shares. The project began with the discovery of Zabel Yesayan and Diana Apcar, whose growing popularity and integration into textbooks and public spaces provided the catalyst for their quest. Encouraged by their findings, the authors delved deeper into the world of Armenian women, gradually uncovering the hidden legacies that had long been overlooked.
Unveiling the Hidden Stories
The Armenian Wonderwomen book was born out of a conversation between Aghabalyan and her on a lack of representation of women and prevailing gender stereotypes. They wanted to bring to light the extraordinary women who have shaped Armenian history but have remained unnoticed for far too long. They also wanted to bridge the past and present to inspire the future by featuring the stories of contemporary Armenian wonderwoman too. “In the book, you first read about historical women and learn about not only their lives but what they fought for then you read about contemporary women, and what they stand for today,” the co-author said.
The discussions evolved into a comprehensive book, offering a platform to tell and celebrate the remarkable stories of Armenian women. Their goal was to create a children’s book where kids could read and learn about these women, who could serve as an inspiration for future generations.