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‘We move mountains’: Feminism and art in Armenia

Armenia has a complicated history with women’s rights. The country boasts one of the first female diplomats in the modern world, dating back to 1918, and was one of the first states globally to give women the right to vote. However, since then, domestic violence, gender-selective abortion rights and a distinct lack of women in…

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‘We move mountains’: Feminism and art in Armenia

Armenia has a complicated history with women’s rights. The country boasts one of the first female diplomats in the modern world, dating back to 1918, and was one of the first states globally to give women the right to vote.

However, since then, domestic violence, gender-selective abortion rights and a distinct lack of women in Nikol Pashinyan’s government have seemingly set Armenian women back several decades – in spite of their highly visible role in the protests that unseated Serzh Sargsyan in 2018.

Al Jazeera spoke to three Armenian artists using social media – Instagram in this instance – and digital art to bring attention to a movement of women and youth looking to move forward as part of the political process, with input into the cultural and, inherently, social development of the country.

The We Move Mountains graphic created in collaboration with OneArmenia and celebrating Armenian women, with profits from print sales geared towards helping clear a minefield in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) [Karine Eurdekian/@kooyrigs/@onearmenia]

Al Jazeera: Women in Armenia were given voting rights before many other countries in the region. However, in spite of their important role in local politics, there seems to be a distinct lack of women representing their peers in the Pashinyan government. How do you assess the role of women in Armenia?

Karine Eurdekian: Pashinyan’s promise to deliver more women in government resulted in two female ministers to his 17-member cabinet. Though women are being recognised to an extent, the impact of their voices is still to be determined as they proceed to work in an environment that fosters male ideologies. 

The unimpactful history of gender quotas in the region is perpetuated by cultural barriers that prevent women from being taken seriously in Armenia’s governmental “boys club”. Cultural grooming, deliberate or not, engrains gender stereotypes within Armenian society. There needs to be an active effort made against such ideologies in order to educate the youth in progressing towards a gender-equal future.

Cassandra Tavukciyan: From humanitarian relief efforts during and after the Armenian genocide to serving as ambassadors to foreign countries, there are endless examples in Armenian history that demonstrate women’s contributions to national progress as full-fledged members of society.

Ida Kar (1907-1974) was a photographer instrumental in encouraging the recognition of photography as a form of fine art. Armenian Women Artists curates images bringing awareness to contributions made by Armenian women in the field of art history [Cassandra Tavukciyan/@armenian_women_artists]

Al Jazeera: Do you think that Anna Hakobyan’s Women for Peace initiative can activate women’s participation in Armenian politics? How do you feel about the current lack of representation in the government?

Tavukciyan: Just because women are underrepresented at the state level does not mean that women are not participating at the local level. Indeed, Armenian women were the driving force behind the recent Velvet Revolutions protests and their active engagement in the process played a critical role. Anna Hakobyan’s Women for Peace initiative, rooted in promoting and establishing the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, is a further example of this kind of participation. While much is still needed to be done, Hakobyan’s initiative is a positive step in the right direction.

Women for Peace | On July 24, 2018, First Lady Anna Hakobyan announced the launch of an initiative to promote the involvement of women on all sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the peaceful and non-violent settlement of the dispute [Anais Chagankerian/@anahitoferebuni]

Chagankerian: Anna Hakobyan is definitely already taking a much more active role in politics than the preceding first ladies and, with her Women for Peace initiative, she is shifting the narrative around women’s participation in peace and conflict from birthing and raising soldiers to actually playing an active role in conflict resolution. 

Prior to the revolution, women politicians would often play a “decorative” role and highlight their conservatism, attachment to traditions and their roles as wives and mothers to be accepted as politicians, and gain the population’s trust. And even though today the lack of representation of women in government is disappointing, the women who are actually part of it seem less afraid to promote change, to be openly feminists and, to a certain extent, I believe this is a great beginning for a change of era for women in the country.

Al Jazeera: International Women’s Day is a national holiday in Armenia. Do you think this symbolism is reflected in everyday life for women in Armenia? What does feminism mean to you as an Armenian woman?

Chagankerian: The day to a certain extent has been stripped of its political nature to become a day where we celebrate the existence and beauty of women, without challenging prejudices and their traditionally assigned role.

Long Live Sisters! | On 18 April 2018, Maria Karapetyan took the microphone on Republic Square, putting special emphasis on women’s double fight during the Velvet Revolution: one for a change in power and one for equality [Anais Chagankerian/ @anahitoferebuni]

Eurdekian: Receiving flowers and chocolate one day of the year does not excuse the gender-based violence many Armenian women face on a daily basis. Understandably, statistics on death caused by domestic abuse in Armenia do not make for lovely quotes on cards. However, while novelty is pleasant, the nature of this national holiday tends to omit the blatant and gruesome presence of crime that is aimed at the very women the champagne is being poured for on March 8. Recently, many prominent Armenian women have decided to change this narrative and are using this day to bring attention to critical issues impacting the women of Armenia. 

As an Armenian woman, feminism means working towards guaranteeing that my sisters are provided with equal opportunity to their male peers. Feminism means spreading education and repairing a broken criminal justice system that favours a “manly” voice. Feminism means eliminating the male gaze and not being catcalled in the streets. It means that Armenian men lacking a unibrow and chest hair are no longer automatically considered “gay” for grooming themselves. Feminism also means that gay is ok, and works to guarantee that LGBTQ individuals will not be beaten in the streets because of who they love. We are a movement that prioritises respect, and our aim is to share this sense of respect through sparking conversation and tackling controversial topics without excluding the critical aspects of unconditional love and acceptance.

Armine Galentz (1920-2007) was born in Syria into a family of teachers who had escaped the Armenian genocide. A member of the Artists Union of Soviet Armenia, Galentz had a successful artistic career, exhibiting her works internationally [Cassandra Tavukciyan/@armenian_women_artists]

Al Jazeera: Why have you chosen this particular medium to express your views? What is some of the feedback you’ve received about the content you choose to create?

Chagankerian: Social media has great potential for social change. It enables like-minded people to share their views and connect to one another, and consequently, it enables them to strengthen their network, knowledge and visibility in their societies. This contributes to challenging our perceptions regarding the real distribution of opinions in our communities because if we only rely on traditional means of communication, we would mostly only have access to more conservative views and wrongly assume that the whole of society just agrees with them.

Tavukciyan: Because Armenian Women Artists (AWA) focuses primarily on artists and artworks, Instagram is an obvious and practical platform for sharing such visual material. So far, I’ve received positive feedback regarding the works and lives of Armenian women artists that AWA chooses to research and promote and most people are pleasantly surprised by just how many artists were present, especially during the Soviet era. Armenian culture is rich and expressive, and AWA tries to bring awareness to the contributions made by Armenian women, which are still relatively unrecognised in the field of Armenian art history.

Stronger Together | A print from @kooyrigs in collaboration with Armenian illustrator Sona Avedikian [Karine Eurdekian/@kooyrigs]

Eurdekian: Our digital medium is extremely productive because it allows us to share education in a simplified and extremely accessible manner. Access to technology is crucial to our movement, and Armenians are generally active on a variety of social media platforms. Even those living in the most remote villages can connect to resources and build friendships with others going through the very same tribulations. This sense of community builds trust, solidarity, and increases awareness through a single click of the “follow” button.

Members of the Kooyrigs family are extremely passionate about spreading education and expanding our network. Their avid participation has allowed us to further our mission while also building a sense of community that is accessible at all hours of the day, every day of the week. The feedback we receive includes heartfelt messages of gratitude and acceptance. It is truly moving as supporting our community is the primary source of motivation behind the movement.

Editor’s note: You can access more artwork on Instagram via @kooyrigs, @anahitoferebuni, @armenian_women_artists

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Euro 2020: Christian Eriksen collapses in Denmark v Finland match

DEVELOPING STORYDanish attacking midfielder receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation at Saturday’s match in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.Denmark’s attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen has collapsed on the pitch of Parken Stadium during his country’s Euro 2020 game against Finland. The 29-year-old was seen receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation at Saturday’s match in Copenhagen. Eriksen fell to the ground near the sideline…

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Euro 2020: Christian Eriksen collapses in Denmark v Finland match

DEVELOPING STORYDanish attacking midfielder receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation at Saturday’s match in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.Denmark’s attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen has collapsed on the pitch of Parken Stadium during his country’s Euro 2020 game against Finland.
The 29-year-old was seen receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation at Saturday’s match in Copenhagen.
Eriksen fell to the ground near the sideline late in the first half and was immediately surrounded by medical staff. His distraught teammates formed a ring around him as medics pumped his chest.
The Group B clash was suspended.
More to follow.

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UAE: Who will own your cryptocurrency after you die?

Experts reveal everything you need to know about passing down and inheriting digital assets. In the last two years, the global user base for crytpocurrencies has increased by nearly 190 per cent in terms of traded volumes. A survey by Statista of consumers across 55 countries ranks consumers in the UAE 19th most likely to…

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UAE: Who will own your cryptocurrency after you die?

Experts reveal everything you need to know about passing down and inheriting digital assets.

In the last two years, the global user base for crytpocurrencies has increased by nearly 190 per cent in terms of traded volumes. A survey by Statista of consumers across 55 countries ranks consumers in the UAE 19th most likely to be an owner of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, in 2020.
But unlike ‘fiat currency’ such as the dollar or the dirham, which can be easily passed on, exchanged, or used for transactions, we are yet to gin an understanding of what will happen to digital currency their owner dies. We know of instances where assets have been lost forever- in 2019, a crypto exchange lost $145 million after its CEO suddenly died and no one had access to the password of the digital wallet.
Safekeeping of passwords is important and equally important is letting your loved ones know about them. “It’s a question that has been bothering me for some time. I have investments worth $100,000 in various crytocurrencies. I have bought these through a broker and not directly from the exchange, which allows me to nominate a beneficiary. So, I am guessing if my wife wants to have access to it when I am gone, she should be able to. But I am not sure of the procedure. I am yet to safekeep my cryptocurrencies in a digital wallet; they are just lying in my account for now, which I know can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. I plan to explore more and make my cryptos more safe and secure and also let my better half know,” says Bawa K., who has been investing in digital currency since 2017.
How are cryptos bought?
Cryptocurrencies can be bought ‘peer to peer’ from people, directly from organisations ‘over the counter’ who offer their own tokens for sale, or from public exchanges such as Coinbase, Bittrex, Binance, Bithumb, Huobi, etc.
“These are the channels for most of the people to get and sell cryptocurrencies. And there are many other ways to get digital assets, for example, C2C(customer to customer) transferring, which are usually not used much,” says Ola Lind, Director, SoBitX.
How are they stored?
The cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology and stored in a so-called wallet. Each wallet corresponds to a pair of keys, a public key and a private key. The public key is used as an address to receive coins and the private key is used to identify the owner.
“Each owner should keep the private key safe. Anyone with this private key can access the assets in this wallet,” says Lind.
“In terms of storage, cryptocurrencies are stored in digital wallets. An individual has a range of choices in that regard, which include holding their digital assets in wallets on exchange, in software wallets such as metamask, or in hardware wallets such as Trezor or Ledger. In all cases, the individual must make their own judgment in terms of security and accessibility,” says Blaise Carroz, Vice President, Global Acquisition, Idoneus.
UAE law on digital currencies and wills
“While legally, the answer is yes, dependents can seek to claim digital assets, similar to any other type of asset, if your passwords, passphrases, and key locations die with you that probably won’t happen. Without those things your crypto assets will be inaccessible,” says Carroz, when asked if families could inherit their loved ones’ cryptocurrencies after they died.
Under the UAE Federal laws, the status of crypto is currently not sufficiently clear to be certain about adding crypto to one’s will. “However, a UAE resident can use a DIFC Will so that it covers all his worldwide assets, include crypto assets. This is possible since DIFC applies the laws of England and Wales, which recognises crypto assets as property. DIFC Wills also have a provision for including a ‘sealed’ document so that potentially one may leave a private key for the beneficiary to receive and use to retrieve the crypto,” advises Carroz.
“As with all things of this nature it is best to consult a professional law firm for advice for drafting wills with crypto elements due to the complexities involved,” adds Carroz.
When including digitally held assets in an estate planning instrument, Century Maxim recommends the following to be outlined in an estate planning instrument:
a. A clear list of the digitally held assets
b. Information of the digital wallet(s)
c. A memorandum of including the passwords and PINs
d. A step-by-step guide explaining how the beneficiaries can access those assets upon the execution of the estate planning instrument
“Without access to the identifiers to access the exchange or wallet, it would be near impossible to access the assets irrespective if it is briefly mentioned under an estate planning instrument. In such a case, it is more likely than not that the digitally held assets are under a highly secure and encrypted network — a feature for which investors of currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or recently the Dogecoin opt for because it is so difficult to intercept,” says Farhat Ali Khan, Managing Partner, Century Maxim International, a legal consultancy firm licensed based in Abu Dhabi.

Suneeti Ahuja Kohli
Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli has been in Dubai long enough to call it her spiritual home. She loves to travel but plans to settle down in Koi Samui, Thailand eventually to spend her sunset years by the sea. For now, she writes frequently on personal finance, retirement planning, business news and features, health and almost anything assigned by her editor. Her sojourns can be followed on instagram (suneetiahujakohli), news and views on Twitter @suneetiahuja, and for the rest, there’s a Facebook account.

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Pakistan Budget 2021-22: Imran Khan chairs cabinet meeting

The meeting is being held to give approval to the budget proposals for fiscal year 2021-22. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting of the federal cabinet on Friday. The meeting is being held to give approval to the budget proposals for fiscal year 2021-22. Budget to improve living standard of working class, labourers:…

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Pakistan Budget 2021-22: Imran Khan chairs cabinet meeting

The meeting is being held to give approval to the budget proposals for fiscal year 2021-22.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting of the federal cabinet on Friday.
The meeting is being held to give approval to the budget proposals for fiscal year 2021-22.
Budget to improve living standard of working class, labourers: Farrukh Habib
The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said that the government was presenting an excellent, balanced and people-friendly budget for financial year 2021-22. In budget 2021-22, maximum funds will be allocated for the welfare projects for the poor segments of society, labour and working class, he said while talking to a private news channel.
Farrukh Habib said that the budget would be austerity-oriented and public-friendly and efforts would be made to put minimum burden on the common man. The resources generated through financial discipline, transparency and good governance were also being spent on the welfare of the people, he added.
The minister said besides big cities, balanced development of villages is also being ensured so that all facilities should be available to the youth and farmers living in rural areas. He said underprivileged segments of the society were most affected by Covid-19 difficulties and the government would not put any further burden of direct taxes and would facilitate the common man.
He said PTI is pro-labour party and Prime Minister Imran Khan has always been supportive for the rights of the workers, adding that the pays for labours including painters, unskilled labour, plumber, electricians was increased.
The minister said with the prudent policies of the government, over 13 per cent export has increased, adding the per capita income was also increased which is another historic achievement of the present government.
He said the country has better days ahead where common man will get full benefit from the prudent policies of the present government.
He mentioned that to make major changes in the Kamyab Jawan Programme (KJP), planning to increase the loan facility for youth, which would prove as an engine for jobs creation, poverty alleviation and economic growth in the country.
He said like KPK province, the Health Card project would be further expanded to other provinces of the country to facilitate working and poor class. He said the present government was constructing dams to provide 10 thousand megawatts electricity at cheap rate. Habib also assured that the government would control the inflation and common man would get relief on priority.
Pakistan heading towards economic stability: Fawad
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that Pakistan was heading towards economic stability after a long time.
In a tweet, he said all economic indicators were positive and such political and economic stability was only possible due to confidence of people and institutions in the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) June 11, 2021
He urged the opposition to cooperate with the government on electoral and judicial reforms.

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