When power and business have a female touch

In 2024, gender studies are still an unexplored territory in Armenia. But now, experts and researchers are starting to delve into the subject, stressing to the government and society that women’s issues affect us all and deserve attention. Let’s examine some actual numbers and statistics.

TEXT : Anzhela Alekian


Over the past decade, Armenian population has declined, with figures dropping from 3,026,879 in 2013 to 2,977,130 in 2023. Data from the Statistical Committee of the Republic of Armenia reveals that in 2013, men made up 48% of the population, while women accounted for 52%. However, by last year, these proportions shifted slightly, with men comprising 47% and women 53% of the population, respectively. Yet, birth rates show a notable contrast, with 112 boys born for every 100 girls. Shockingly, the International Center for Human Development reports that Armenia loses approximately 1,400 girls annually due to prenatal sex selection and gender-based abortions. This trend poses a significant demographic threat to the nation, emphasized by deeply rooted patriarchal norms within society.

Hasmik Gevorgyan, a Sociology Professor at Yerevan State University and a Gender Specialist, explains that witnessing these abortions was one of the reasons she decided to study gender. Another motivation came from her time working at an emergency hotline in the ‘90s, where she saw the violence women faced firsthand. “The Soviet Union gave women de jure equality, allowing us to gain some tangible results de facto. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, everything it offered, including equality, was rejected since it was perceived as Russian influence. After that, Armenian women gradually drifted towards Western values, unlike men who preferred Eastern traditions. Women were more open to changes and evolved more rapidly,” Hasmik Gevorgyan says. 

Returning to the statistics, in 2022, the life expectancy at birth for women was 87.3 years (compared to 77.4 in 2021), while for men, it was 71.4 years (a slight increase from 67.4 in 2021). As a result, women often find themselves widowed and alone after retirement. The retirement age for both men and women is set at 63. Additionally, the average pension for women in 2022 was 45,707 AMD, slightly lower than that for men, which stood at 48,037 AMD. 
However, it’s not just in the event of their partner’s passing that women may find themselves alone. Data from the Statistical Committee of the Republic of Armenia indicates that women are more prone to remain divorced, whereas men show a greater tendency to remarry after divorce. Additionally, the average age at first marriage for women in 2022 was 27.9, while for men it was 31.4. Contrasting this with 2012 figures, women married at an average age of 25.3, and men at 28.8. This suggests that despite women traditionally marrying at a younger age than men, they are now opting to remain single for longer periods compared to previous years.



Since 1991, the average number of children born per woman has significantly declined, which is especially noticeable in rural areas. In 2020, the fertility rate in rural areas fell below that of urban areas. However, between 2021 and 2022, there was a notable improvement in the total fertility rate among the rural population, reaching 1.711 and 2.118 children per woman, respectively, compared to 1.7 and 1.489 children per woman in urban areas.
Professor Gevorgyan does not find this situation surprising. She notes that a few years ago, girls in villages were often considered too old for marriage while still in 8th grade. However, she observes that the situation is gradually changing.

“In 1999, while researching domestic violence, I realized that many women didn’t even fully understand what violence is. Some would say, “If he hits me once a week, it’s not a big deal, but if he starts to kick or beat up, then it is violence.” Eventually, women started to question why such behavior was tolerated. On the other hand, men often fail to grasp the severity of their actions. The prison mentality, particularly prevalent among young boys, hindered educational achievement; any boy excelling in school would be called names. 

I’m not suggesting that men harm women; rather, they harm themselves first. Ultimately, they must learn to live independently because not only is the slave dependent on the master, but the master is also dependent on the slave,” adds Professor Hasmik Gevorgyan.

The numbers paint a clear picture of the education gender gap. In 2022, girls outnumbered boys in earning bachelor’s degrees, comprising 64.1% compared to 43.9%. Despite making up 53% of science candidates, women only represented 25% of those holding doctorate degrees. 



Furthermore, in 2022, the working-age population aged 15-75 comprised 1,196,200 women and 1,032,300 men. However, the employment figures reveal a stark contrast: only 41% of women were employed, with 52% out of the labor force. In comparison, 62% of men were employed, while 29% were unemployed. Another striking statistic from the Statistical Committee indicates that in 2022, 52% of women aged 15-74 – equivalent to 620,000 women – were neither employed nor actively seeking work, primarily occupied with housekeeping duties.

In 2022, while many women and men were employees, most employers and own-account workers were men. Specifically, only 17% of employers were women, with 83% being men. Moreover, 61% of family-contributing workers who received no pay were women, compared to only 39% who were men.

Insights from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation’s youth study reveal concerning trends among young adults aged 19-29. Shockingly, only 1/4 of female young adults in this age group are financially independent. Additionally, just 1/3 of all young adults have a personal source of income, while 1/4 remain financially dependent on their fathers.

The Women Entrepreneurship Study in Armenia, conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC), relies on Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey data. This survey investigates individuals’ steps to launch a business and its current status. According to the study, companies led by women, as outlined in the report, tend to be smaller in scale, operate in different sectors, and have less growth potential than those led by men. Furthermore, self-employed women typically work fewer hours and earn less than their male counterparts. The report identifies several specific challenges to women’s entrepreneurship, including an unsupportive cultural and societal environment, a perceived lack of entrepreneurial skills, greater difficulty in accessing financial resources compared to men, limited professional networks, and obstacles posed by family and tax policies. 

According to the Statistical Committee’s report, men held the majority of managerial positions. In 2022, men occupied 56% of roles in the categories of legislators, senior officials, and managers. Additionally, the gender pay gap, as reported by the Statistical Committee, widened from 35.3% to 39.2% between 2018 and 2022. Specifically, in 2022, women earned only 60.8% of what men earned, resulting in a gender pay gap of 39.2%.

“Today, women are better educated than ever before. Even in fields like IT, traditionally dominated by men, over 40% of employees are female. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate to equal or fair pay. Additionally, women often find themselves gravitating towards front-end roles, which are typically perceived as more suitable for women, while back-end positions are viewed as male-dominated. Yet, recent research indicates that front-end tasks have become increasingly challenging despite salaries remaining unchanged,” explains Professor Gevorgyan. The most significant pay gap is observed in financial and insurance activities, which is 52%. Following closely is the industry sector, with a pay gap of 44%, and in third place is healthcare and social work, where the pay gap reaches 40%.

“I believe women and their professionalism will soon be recognized and valued more highly. Eventually, people will realize the importance of having competent professionals handling management roles. There’s a misconception that management doesn’t require expertise, but the reality is different. Moreover, it’s primarily women who are pursuing higher education nowadays, and, of course, educated women understandably don’t want to settle for working under uneducated men,” adds Hasmik Gevorgyan.

She highlights that even among university professors, women outnumber men; the same trend is seen among school staff. However, managerial roles often remain occupied by men.
This pattern extends to state leadership as well. Across various ministries, female staff are in the majority, with exceptions in the Ministry of Defense (45% female), Foreign Affairs (46% female), and the High Tech Industry (48% female). Notably, the Education, Science, Culture, and Sport Ministry boasts the highest percentage of female staff at 71%. Despite these figures, only 2 out of 12 ministers and 8 out of 47 deputy ministers in the Armenian government are women.

According to Hasmik Gevorgyan, women in positions of power in Armenia are not yet prepared to advocate for policies that protect women’s rights. She believes that these issues are currently inadequately addressed.
“That’s why I often say that we’ll soon witness the rise of radical feminism. I believe the most radical feminist movements will emerge in the East, where women feel they have nothing to lose, and men will benefit, too. "Interestingly, men make up nearly 40% of feminist organizations in Egypt,” notes the professor.


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