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Newsletter – December 2015

WELCOME! The Women’s Support Center (WSC) is happy to introduce our quarterly newsletter, covering news, views, and activities pertaining to our work. Through this newsletter, we hope to inform, engage, and activate an ever-growingcircle of people – activists, donors, supporters – as we seek to protect and empower women in Armenia. Below you’ll find the contents of our first issue!

Celebrating Five Years

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On November 13, WSC celebrated its fifth anniversary with partners and in-country donors at the Tufenkian Heritage Hotel in Yerevan. It was a time to reflect on the center’s various achievements and hurdles over the last five years as well as thank all those who have supported numerous women in breaking free of the cycle of violence. The event began with a welcoming address by Executive Director Maro Matosian, followe d by a short film that showcased the center’s work. Tufenkian Foundation Executive Director Antranig Kasbarian then reflected on WSC’s origins as a program founded by the Tufenkian Foundation together with USAID and the Armenian International Women’s Association and how the small organization went above and beyond everyone’s expectations to establish itself as the premier center for domestic violence service provision. Following Dr. Kasbarian, Jack Anderson from the US embassy addressed the crowd, applauding WSC for its hard work, professionalism, and concrete achievements.

Our Successes

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Anahit came to us after having been in an abusive relationship for 12 years. WSC staff worked with her over the course of the past year, helping to build up her self-esteem and assist her with legal paperwork. She received counseling, took part in group sessions, and participated in various classes to learn English and build leadership skills, becoming empowered in the process. We’re proud to say that Anahit recently embarked on a new career as an accountant, something she never thought was possible, and is now able to care for herself and her children. Reflecting on her experience, she recently noted, “Now I understand that my life is in front of me and that I shouldn’t lose hope. I’m so thankful to the WSC staff for their warm welcome and for supporting me.” Anahit’s story is one of numerous success stories that make WSC the premier domestic violence center in Armenia today.

Training & Prevention

Capacity building of staff

Training

In a continuous effort to strengthen capacity of service providers, WSC holds numerous trainings for staff and invites representatives of partner NGOs. Nina Roma Agvanian, a Boston-based trauma expert, has conducted regular staff trainings on many aspects of domestic violence and continues to advise us during case discussions. Last summer, Dr. Ruzanna Ohanjanian, a California-based clinical psychologist, lecturer, and trainer, led a weeklong intensive training on domestic violence psychological counseling, treatment intervention, and best practices in dealing with clients. Soon after, Nayiri Nahapetyan, a California-based social worker, professor, and trainer, gave a weeklong training on team management, communication skills, and problem-solving. In September, WSC’s Executive Director, Maro Matosian, led a team-building workshop and invited Anahit Mkhoyan, a Gender-Based Violence Specialist at the Near East Foundation, to lead discussions on strategic organizational planning.

Capacity building of municipal workers

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In collaboration with German International Corp., WSC carried out comprehensive trainings with government social workers and police officers on domestic violence service provision. Led by Maro Matosian, the sessions debunked myths associated with domestic violence and stressed the importance of proper intake, assessment, referral, and follow-up with victims.

Community Outreach


National Day to Combat Domestic Violence

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On October 1 WSC joined numerous groups to observe the National Day to Combat Domestic Violence and raise awareness among the public. As a founding member of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women, WSC places special importance on such activities. This year, the Coalition led a public action at Republic Square in Yerevan, where members laid out 60 pairs of shoes with associated stories representing the many women who died at the hands of their husbands. A letter was handed to the Prime Minister’s office, demanding that a law on domestic violence prevention be passed. The day ended with a candlelight vigil in memory of victims of abuse in Armenia and throughout the world.


16 Days Activism

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Women’s Support Center, in conjunction with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women, organized a number of initiatives within the context of the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, starting with a march in Yerevan on November 25th and public demonstrations that took place in Ijevan and Gavar on November 27th and 28th. In shedding light on issues related to domestic violence in Armenia, WSC staff met resistance from some community members and were shown support from others. Along with the public demonstrations, staff, supporters, and beneficiaries participated in a number of other initiatives as well, including a theater production, photo exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, and film showings.

“Woman of Courage” Award

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Each year, the international community presents a “Woman of Courage” award to individuals in recognition of their courage and advocacy on behalf of women’s rights and gender equality. Presented jointly by the US, UK, UN, EU, and OSCE Missions in Armenia, this year’s award went to WSC’s former beneficiary Hasmik Khachatryan and the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women. Reflecting on her experience, Hasmik exclaimed, “I’m happy now, because I have my own business and am able to raise my children. I’m so thankful to the entire WSC staff. It feels like I’ve been born again. Things are wonderful, and I’m succeeding in life.” Hasmik is one of the few domestic violence survivors who, with the encouragement of WSC staff, openly advocates for women’s issues in Armenia. Standing up for women across the country, she urges them to protect their own rights and break free of abuse.

Thank you

We are so grateful to all of our donors, partners, and colleagues. During these first five years, you have helped us immeasurably in curbing domestic violence in Armenia. We hope that you will continue to support this cause in years to come. You can make a tax-deductible donation today by sending a check made out to Tufenkian Foundation, 20 Capitol Drive, Moonachie, NJ 07074, mentioning WSC in the memo section.