19-year-old Lyudmila Shirvanyan never adapted to reality, which negatively affected public life. While still in school, she spoke up about problems that received a lot of response, and, most importantly, steps were taken to address these problems.
Journalism as a platform for problem-solving
Lyudmila chose journalism as her future profession, believing that this is a platform where she can raise issues that concern her. “Journalism gives me the best platform where I can be heard, through which I can raise many issues,” she says.
Cultural shock as a driving force
According to Lyudmila, when she moved to Yerevan to obtain higher education, various problems arose at first. “The first difficulties of my student life were visible from the very beginning. The fact that I am a girl played a big role. Well, in Armenia it is generally difficult to be a girl. There are a lot of demands from the girls: do not speak so loudly, do not leave the house in the evening, etc. I was very afraid that it would be dangerous in Yerevan in the evening, when I first arrived in Yerevan, I was very scared, even to the point of psychological problems. All this made me reconsider my life, my lifestyle and, finally, how long I can live according to generally accepted norms, with various fears and restrictions,” she says.
Community problems in Lyudmila’ s priority
One of Lyudmila’s goals is to revitalize the life of rural communities and support their development. “I want to change the situation for the better in our communities. I want the villages to be so interesting that young people do not want to leave and contribute to the development of the village,” she says.
From an early age, Lyudmila participated in various programs implemented by the Armenian branches of international organizations, within the framework of which she is taking steps to revitalize rural life.
“My friends and I have created a startup to promote ethnic tourism. The hotel chain will be opened in different communities of Armenia. We will take tourists to the homes of the villagers so that they can participate in rural life. This way we will not only develop tourism, but also give villagers the opportunity to earn money,” says the 19-year-old future journalist.
Cooperation with the Women’s Fund Armenia
Lyudmila talks about the prehistory of introducing the initial idea of the “Feminist Corner” program funded by the Women’s Fund Armenia: “One of the male teachers in our school once said, ‘What women have done in general, if women have done something very serious, now their names will be known to us, but we don’t know them.” I said, “One day I will prove you wrong.”
Then, a few years later, Lyudmila saw that the Women’s Fund Armenia was providing grants to teenage girls to implement their interesting ideas. “After seeing the announcement, I decided to apply for a grant to create a feminist corner in our school. I made posters about famous Armenian women. We also placed the works of Armenian writers in that corner” she says.
Speaking about the results of the project, Lyudmila notes with excitement that even at the preparatory stage, when the work of the feminist corner had not yet ended, pupils took all the books on the shelf. “Half of them were standing in a queue to read the next one. What delighted me most was that many teachers showed interest and also took the books themselves,” she says.
Cooperation with the Fund continues until now. According to Lyudmila, the Fund plays an important role in her life. “I always follow the activities of the Fund: studies, research, interviews. Something is constantly changing in me. Every time I understand how much I still do not know and how much I need to learn. Now I not only go to the Fund, but I also take with me a lot of accomplice girls, who previously knew very little about feminism, women’s rights and similar issues,” says Lyudmila.
Visions of the future
As an individual dealing with women’s issues, Lyudmilal sees her strengths as courage, kindness, and perseverance.
“It seems to me that everyone at teen age thinks about change, but when they grow up, they forget about those ideas. I’m sure it will not happen to me. I am still trying to make good changes, and in a few years I will try to make changes. I started the changes from myself, now I make those changes among my peers, and I am sure that the time will come when those people will make changes in others. No matter your job, your biggest goal should be to bring about good changes,” she said.
Now Lyudmila Shirvanyan is very interested in women’s issues. She intends to become a human rights activist.
Interview by Yelena Sargsyan