‘Wives of politicians shouldn’t counsel husbands’ – PM Pashinyan’s spouse says in Mir 24 interview
YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 25, ARMENPRESS. The Eurasian Women’s Forum, attended by PM Nikol Pashinyan’s wife Anna Hakobyan, has ended in St. Petersburg.
Mrs. Hakobyan was interviewed by Mir 24 TV on the forum, issues of concern to women, raising children and much more.
We met today within the framework of the Eurasian Women’s Forum. What issues are of concern for women today, and overall what do women talk about when they meet?
This forum actually encompassed a broad circle of issues, which have important significance not only for women but generally for the whole world, because these issues relate to both men, seniors, and especially children. This isn’t solely a women’s forum. It has a global agenda.
All issues which are discussed within the framework of the forum, ranging from global security, conflict settlement up to overcoming poverty and gender equality issues. All these issues are pushed to the foreground today and are of concern to the society. The forum really enables a good chance to exchange views over all these issues.
What issues do Armenian women face and to what extent are the gender issues in employment big?
These issues exist in Armenia like in many post-Soviet countries. Armenian women face both employment and violence issues, but NGOs have begun to actively deal with this issue in the last years and from this perspective significant changes are already obvious.
Your husband, Nikol Pashinyan, was elected Prime Minister on May 8th. How has your life changed since that day?
Generally speaking there were no great changes, our lives changed more in a technical sense. I mean the great responsibility which my husband has taken not only on his shoulders since his election day, but also on my shoulders and my family’s shoulders.
Do you like this new status?
I think there is no issue here of liking or not liking. I view this as a responsibility and I think that this is my duty which I must definitely fulfill for my country and people.
Under Armenian law, who is considered First Lady, you or the president’s wife? Or both of you?
It is very surprising that not only do Armenian reporters ask this question but also foreign reporters. I think it doesn’t matter who is considered to be First Lady. What matters is for everyone to be in their place and to be useful for the country and the people in the limits of possibilities.
You are always in the focus of reporters. Everyone is focusing on how you dress and your behavior in public locations. Did you have to change something in your lifestyle?
Yes, indeed there is this kind of a necessity. My title allows me to pay great attention to my looks now, and I am doing everything to comply with this status.
They say that the man is the head of the family, while the woman is the neck. Do you give advices to your husband? And does the Prime Minister consult with you?
This is also from the range of questions which I am often asked in Armenia, because I firmly believe that wives of politicians shouldn’t give advices to their husbands. I simply want to understand where these stereotypes come from, that [allegedly] wives of politicians participate in their husbands’ activities. I suppose there have been similar examples in history, but I think it more resembles a situation when the husband is engaged in quantum physics, is a scientist, and will never ask any advice from his wife. I firmly believe that being a politician is a very serious profession, and one should have great experience for giving advices.
Have you thought of leaving journalism after your change in status?
Yes I have, but the current state of journalism in Armenia forces me to remain in office as editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
As a journalist, do you have a preferred topic and why?
Yes, there are such topics which I have covered. It is certainly politics. I chose journalism not only because I like politics but because there was a time when I very much liked writing.
You have three daughters and one son. How do you manage to find time for the family? Does someone help you in raising the children?
In my interviews I also like to say that the job of an editor-in-chief is so hard and time consuming that after work no other activity takes so much energy from me. When I used to work as a correspondent, then editor, I was having children and during that period it was my mother who helped me a lot. And now, when my children are already older, they are the ones who can help me in several issues.
What do you think is best for raising children? Being strict? Discipline or simply leaving the kids free to do whatever they want?
There is certainly no complete freedom, but my approach in upbringing is the following: One must talk with children a lot about various issues, give answers and solve all issues. I think it is the right thing to give the chance of decision-making to the kids in order for them to be responsible for their actions and decisions.
Do boys and girls require different upbringing?
Naturally, it comes from the nature that women and men are different in their nature and require different approaches in upbringing. I believe that the upbringing issue of children of different genders shouldn’t be placed on the same level.
You have launched the My Step charity foundation, a platform where issues can be solved, issues to which the government hasn’t yet been able to focus on due to certain reasons. What steps have already been taken and what future plans do you have?
I had announced in July about the election of a director of the foundation, and it was with great difficulty that we made a decision. The foundation will commence work from October, we have massive projects now, which I will speak about soon most probably. Our work is divided into four fields – education, healthcare, social sector and culture. Soon we are planning to launch a major project and we want there to be no children left without care in Armenia’s orphanages. This is an ambitious program, but we will do our best to succeed.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan