Armenia: “For Family and Health” Pan-Armenian Association
Մենք ու մեր մարմինը (2010)
Translation:We and Our Body
Our Bodies, Ourselves Project
“For Family and Health” Pan-Armenian Association (PAFHA) published an adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves in 2010 for women and girls in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.
“We and Our Body” covers a broad range of issues, from physical, emotional and sexual development, to pregnancy, postpartum and women in their later years. It also critiques the ethics and over-use of medical technologies and drugs, especially those that are untested, with a discussion on the need for improved and better publicized research.
This edition followed a 2001 version published by the Armenian Charitable Foundation on Population Development and funded by the Soros Foundation in Budapest and the Lincy Foundation. Approximately 2,000 copies of the first edition were distributed via community trainings/workshops across the country. Both editions received tremendous support from the Armenian diaspora in the United States.
The OBOS Global Initiative provided extensive support on this project, most notably with fundraising and promotion. The book is available online for free (see below).
Judy Norsigian, OBOS co-founder and former executive director, authored the preface and continues to raise awareness about the book within the United States, engaging with Armenian government representatives, the Armenian International Women’s Association, and committed individuals like Margot Dilmaghani, an Armenian-American activist and musician in New York who raised funds through sales of her classical piano CD featuring music by Armenian women composers.
Norsigian’s outreach has also encouraged young Armenian women in the United States, like Sophia Moradian, to assume greater leadership on human rights in Armenia. When Moradian was a student at Boston College, she studied in Armenia and wrote a blog post about PAHFHA’s work and her experience.
In 2011, Dr. Meri Khachikyan, founder and director of “For Family and Health” Pan-Armenian Association, attended OBOS’s 40th anniversary symposium and took part in a panel on challenges to autonomy and activism. Dr. Khachikyan has served as senior researcher/chief of polyclinic at the Armenian Research Center on Maternal and Child Health and as coordinator of the Global Comprehensive Abortion Care Initiative at the IPPF European Network in Brussels. Watch Dr. Khachikyan discuss her work improving the reproductive health and well-being of women in Armenia.
“I have worked on gender and economic rights in Armenia and in the greater Middle East region and witnessed firsthand the impact of poverty on access and health in these communities. For the women and girls who cannot afford health care, PAFHA’s clinics are essential lifelines.”
In 2013, Norsigian traveled to Armenia to speak about gender equity and gender stereotypes. She and Dr. Khachikyan traveled together to rural Dilijan, where they witnessed young people organizing around the lack of sexuality education in their conservative community. Each activist was given a copy of the Armenian adaptation.
“I was moved by their enthusiasm — as I have been so many times when talking with women about how the book changed their lives,” Norsigian wrote in a blog post.
For information on obtaining print copies, please contact “For Family and Health” Pan-Armenian Association: armfha [AT] netsys.am
PAFHA: Community Action & Activism
“For Family and Health” Pan-Armenian Association (PAFHA) was established in 1995 to improve health outcomes, especially among youth and disadvantaged communities, by increasing access to evidence-based sexual and reproductive health information and services.
The organization works in close partnership with government and non-government allies to advance its agenda, with impressive results. Between 2006 and 2009, for example, PAFHA introduced youth-friendly approaches in more than 30 community health centers and trained more than 300 peer educators to mentor young Armenians.
It also responds directly to the health needs of grassroots women and girls via clinics like the St. Mary’s Family Health Centre in Yerevan, which provides free reproductive health care. (Watch this slideshow tour about the establishment and work of St. Mary’s.)
At a time when access to reproductive services is under siege globally, PAFHA is also improving access to abortion care via special initiatives supported by agencies like International Planned Parenthood Federation and Gates Foundation. In 2010, PAFHA conducted a comprehensive abortion-care training with 150 providers, distributing resource materials and manual vacuum aspiration syringes. Another initiative, Women’s Voices for Health, is empowering Armenian women to become advocates for improved health services and outcomes in their communities.
PAFHA has also introduced the Armenian adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves to regional audiences via conferences in Croatia and Brussels, among other places, and as a member (since 1999) of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network. The IPPF-EN implements projects in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
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