Religious leaders promoting gender equality in Armenia
December 20, 2022

Religious leaders promoting gender equality in Armenia

To recognise and fight domestic violence in local communities across Armenia, as well as to engage men in prenatal and postnatal care and responsible fatherhood, a series of trainings have sought to educate and empower priests and social workers of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church.

“Often, men become more aggressive and resort to violence due to social problems. Through the knowledge we gained via the training, we can address these problems more delicately and deliver the proper approach when counselling families by focusing on men’s engagement in the family and childcare,” says Fr. Mambre Voskanyan, a priest from the Lori region of Armenia.

He is one of the 27 priests and 10 social workers from Armenia’s Shirak, Lori and Tavush regions who improved their knowledge and skills in promoting gender equality, responsible fatherhood and preventing gender-based violence through a recent training entitled “The Church combating domestic violence and promoting men’s engagement”. The 2-day training was organised by the “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together against gender stereotypes and gender-based violence” programme, which is funded by the European Union.

“We work with families closely to promote gender equality and men’s engagement in care work. At our sociocultural centre, we try to touch on these topics to form the right perception from childhood with children through art. That’s how we can prepare the ground for preventing violence and help families to overcome problems and crises in the very early stages,” says Meri Arakelyan, a social worker from the Tavush region of Armenia, who works in cooperation with the priests.

Social workers are the first recourse for families who experience conflicts. If the problems can’t be solved at their level, they redirect families to church priests. In a critical situation with violence, social workers may also refer families to state structures and support centres.

“We have had successful cases. In one of the families, the man had alcohol abuse disorder. We convinced him to undergo treatment. He has since returned to his family, and their life has changed dramatically. Now, everyone in the family is living peacefully. In such cases, we keep an eye on them to ensure the neutralisation of possible dangers,” adds Arakelyan.

Both priests and social workers who participated in the “EU 4 Gender Equality” trainings highlight the importance of men’s engagement in family care and the equal distribution of domestic responsibilities for preventing domestic violence.

“We persist in addressing men’s involvement in fatherhood and the equal dissemination of care work in our daily service,” says Fr. Abel Kartashyan, a priest from the Tavush region of Armenia.

“Training sessions for priests and social workers of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church are part of our efforts to engage men for promoting gender equality, fighting gender-based violence, encouraging men to become more involved in childcare and to unleash their power to be equal partners. This partnership allows us to include the prevention of violence in various areas of religious activities in Armenia, and contributes to the strengthening of gender equality,” explains Dilara Buyuktas, a.i. Programme Manager of the “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together against gender stereotypes and gender-based violence” programme.

The trainings were held in the framework of the “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together against gender stereotypes and gender-based violence” programme, funded by the European Union, and implemented jointly by UN Women and UNFPA.

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