The only international organization dedicated to the advancement of Armenian women regardless of their political, religious or educational affiliation.
THE AIWA STORY
As Armenia was in the midst of transitioning to a democratic republic in the late 1980s, while dealing with border blockades and the catastrophic earthquake of 1988, three women in Boston — Eva Medzorian, Barbara Merguerian, and Olga Proudian — came together in a common realization that the time had come for Armenian women to become more closely involved in our international communities. While being in the shadow of the women’s movement in the United States, Eva, Barbara, and Olga sought to bring Armenian women together; to empower and inspire these women whose intersectionalities should be honored. And so, Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) was created in 1990 as an independent and nonpolitical organization, and was officially incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1991.
AIWA, then and now, is aware of the bountiful issues women face in society and has always sought to raise and strengthen the powerful voices of women! The conditions of women in Armenia in the 1990s sparked AIWA to organize many informational sessions about life in Armenia, scholarship programs for women to pursue university educations, and host international conferences and meetups for the past 28 years.
AIWA’s first major initiative in Yerevan involved supporting a program to enable top doctors from Harvard Medical School to travel to Yerevan to train medical personnel at the Women’s Reproductive Health Center there. AIWA’s early efforts in Armenia earned us an award for humanitarian assistance from the First Lady of Armenia, Lucia Ter Petrossian when she visited the Boston area in 1994.
At AIWA, we believe in the importance of empowering women professionally, and thus, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Project in cooperation with the American University of Armenia was launched in 2004; an ongoing program that teaches practical skills such as creating a small business plan, builds self-esteem, and fosters a sense of empowerment with over 285 graduates as of 2018.
During this period the publishing and archiving activities also expanded remarkably. Resources and grants procured allowed AIWA to publish historical articles from revolutionary Armenian women, translate books from Armenian women authors into English, and share significant archives with our community.
By 2010, AIWA had become a founding donor for the Women’s Support Center (WSC) based in Yerevan. The Women’s Support Center, conceived by the Tufenkian Foundation, received its initial funding in 2010 from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), matching funds from AIWA and the Tufenkian Foundation. AIWA continues to support WSC as one of our AIWA-wide initiatives!
AIWA continues to depend on our members, supporters and friends to help us fulfill our mission. As we move forward, AIWA will continue to implement the changes we need to highlight and support Armenian women across the globe. In 2018, AIWA engaged Rachel Nadjarian as our executive director. Rachel has made significant contributions in her work with our affiliates in exploring ways to modernize our operations and in rebranding AIWA in a way that keeps us true to our vision and goals. AIWA is reaching out to everyone who supports the advancement of Armenian women because we are the source of creative energy in the world, and thus with our progress comes the progress of all…