Women In The Parliament Of The First Republic Of Armenia

At a time when the first sprouts of the struggle of women for their rights – particularly, their right to be elected to government posts – appeared in Europe, 3 out of 80 parliamentarians in the First Republic of Armenia were women.

Katarina Zalyan-Manukyan

Katarina Zalyan-Manukyan was a nurse and was particularly known for her extensive work with orphans and migrants.

In 1917, Zalyan-Manukyan married Aram Manukyan, who would later become one of the founding fathers of the First Republic. A year later, their daughter Seda was born.

Katarina coordinated women who volunteered to work in hospitals during the battles of Sardarapat, Karakilisa, and Bash-Aparan.

Typhus claimed the life of Katarina Zalyan-Manukyan’s husband in January 1919. A few months later, she was appointed a member of the parliamentary committee on health.

After Armenia came under the control of the Bolsheviks, Zalyan-Manukyan moved to Krasnodar due to political persecution but returned back in 1927 when the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic needed doctors. A few years later, she moved to Moscow where she died in 1965.

Perchuhi Partizpanyan-Barseghyan

Perchuhi Partizpanyan-Barseghyan was born in 1886 in the city of Edirne, a city in modern western Turkey. When Partizpanyan-Barseghyan was 16 years old, she met her future husband Sargis Barseghyan, a revolutionary and representative of the Armenian fidayi movement.

Partizpanyan-Barseghyan founded the Union of Women to spread knowledge of the Armenian language and culture, as well as the revolutionary manifestos of the ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation). Then, she moved to Geneva (Switzerland) to study literature and pedagogy. In Switzerland, she began to write under the pseudonym of Etna.

Sometime later, Partizpanyan-Barseghyan returned to Ottoman Turkey.

On April 24, 1915, her husband became one of the hundreds of Armenian intellectuals who were arrested in Constantinople and killed by the Ottomans during the first massacre in a series of massacres of ethnic Armenians during and after World War I. These events are recognized as genocide by Armenia and over 30 other countries.

Partizpanyan-Barseghyan would then live and teach in Sofia (Bulgaria) and Tbilisi (Georgia). She soon returned to Yerevan and participated in the 1919 parliamentary elections.

After the Bolsheviks captured Armenia, she returned to Sofia and then moved to Paris where she would continue her literary work until her death in 1940.

Varvara Sahakyan

A member of the ARF from a young age, Varvara Sahakyan was married to Avetik Sahakyan, the chairman of the parliament of the First Republic. She was engaged in educational issues and was a frequent author of legislative initiatives.

After the conquest of Armenia by the Bolsheviks (when her husband was arrested in Yerevan together with other Armenian leaders) and the failure of the 1921 uprising, Sahakyan and two of her children went from Yerevan to Tabriz on foot.

This was the first period of her relocation. Later, the family moved to Iraq and, finally, to Beirut, Lebanon.

In 1932, Sahakyan’s second child Armenak passed, and a year later, her husband died as well. She died in 1934.

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