The Women of Artsakh

Since 1988 and to the present day there has been a war in Nagorno-Karabah, a disputed territory in the southern Caucasus Mountains. Although internationally Nagorno-Karabah is recognized to belong to Azerbaijan, Armenia also claims it because of ethnic ties and because it is an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan territory. The resulting war has deprived the little country which now calls itself Artsakh, of men. While it is a very patriarchal society women have had to step in government, courts, universities all the while being mothers and whatever roles they have had to take on. The result shows what women can do and it is sufficiently impressive Der Spiegel ran an article about them. The women did not ask for this, they are not feminists and do not talk about gender parity. They stepped in because there was a need. They assert themselves cautiously but with strategic cleverness. They let men think they can still be in control. Many women have their own careers and lead independent lives, but do not rub men’s noses in their accomplishments. It is a poor country still at war, but at least, the article concludes there is peace in families and between genders.

It is not an approach that Western women would endorse. Some may even deride it as a game or a stance they are not willing to take. But I can’t help wonder what will happen a generation or two hence, when the children of these women are in charge, when what women can do has already been proven, will they achieve gender parity faster than we?