Single mothers in Armenia – the stories of women who dare to go it alone
Nune and her father
Nune Kirakosyan was 35 when she decided to give birth to a child without a husband. She understood that this was a break from tradition and would be unusual and incomprehensible to many of her friends and family. However, Nune went forward with her decision. Today she is the single mother of an 11 year old daughter.
“Ten years ago, deciding on such a step was even more difficult, but I endured to the end. During my pregnancy, when someone was talking in the house, my daughter reacted and moved. But as soon as my father started talking, she froze inside me. Before being born, she seemed to feel that my father was against her birth,” Nune said.
Nune married at 25, but after a few years she divorced and returned to her parent’s house. She continued her education, and eventually gained her independence as a working economist. All this time she was thinking about having a baby.
“I was already 32 years old, I understood that time is running out. The main problem was my father. Once I told him: “Dad, if I give birth to a child, will it be bad for you?” He said sarcastically: “Of course not, on the contrary, I would walk with my head held high and the flag in my hands.” “Dad,” I say, “I can get married at any age — at 40, 50, even at 60, but at that age I can’t bear a child anymore.” And I warned him that if I become pregnant, I will give birth to a child, ” says Nune.
A year after this conversation, Nune became pregnant. In the third month of pregnancy, she again talked to her father. After this conversation, he stopped all communication with her.
“He has not spoken to me for a year and five months. Mom and brother easily made my decision. My daughter grew up and my father kept silent. Then I learned that as soon as I left the house, he would approach the child, take her in his arms, stroke her, even rock her to sleep. Time put everything in its place; he realized that my decision to have a child was not immoral. ”
Nune says that she knows many women under forty who are wondering if they should take such a step. And many reject this thought for fear of condemnation.
Sona never wanted to get married
The son of 39-year-old Sona Badalyan is already two years old. According to her, many single women suppress the desire to have a child because of social norms.
“They just can’t decide. You just need to make the decision to do it or not. The remaining problems for women in this age group are solvable, these are merely a matter of business, ” Sona thinks.
From early on the dream Sona never dreamed of having a normal family. The family she envisioned was always her and a baby, without a husband.
“I don’t know, is it selfishness? But more than once I caught myself with this dream. And the universe responded: it gave me what I dreamed about. This was the step I was supposed to take. I didn’t even think about the opinions of others. My master plan was bigger, more important and more powerful than them. For me, it is even strange that women, when they think about having a child alone, first of all think about what will be said about them. First, a person must love his or herself. Women need to think about themselves. During pregnancy, I never walked with my head down, I did not hesitate, because my actions had no effect on the lives of others, ” Sona says.
After the birth of her son, Sona noticed that her friends began to appreciate her more, and her personal self-esteem also grew. However, she could not avoid family problems. Her decision to raise a child single has troubled her family. Her brother does not communicate with her at all.
“They say that I made these decisions selfishly, that I did not discuss the issue with them, did not ask permission before changing my life. I respond with the same: did any of you consult with me before changing your life? Did I require you to coordinate with me? Every person lives his or her own life,” says Sona.
How to decide?
40-year-old Emma Sargsyan admits that for five years she has been preparing herself for the birth of a child:
“When I was younger and thought about having a baby, I said to myself: I will never go for it unless I get married. But time and age help one come to this decision. The most important thing is to be psychologically ready, then all extraneous conversations will recede into the background . ”
And Sona says that many people come to her for courage.
“I explain to them: the most important thing is that you need to be decisive. If you do not want to carry the baby of a partner, there is artificial insemination. “
In the Fertility center, several dozen unmarried women annually become mothers through artificial insemination.
The director of the center, a gynecologist-reproductologist, Edward Hambartsumian, says that recently the number of women addressing them has been growing. Ten years ago, few came to them, and it was considered a heroic or tragic act:
“Now this question is not discussed with grandparents, they don’t ask permission of their relatives. Now a woman can make her own decision. ”
According to the director of the reproductive center, they are usually addressed to women aged 40-45 years. But he advises to consult a doctor earlier, since by age 45 the chances of getting pregnant are extremely low.
“Even our powerful assistive technologies sometimes do not allow us to help at age 45, as a woman’s eggs have aged and decline in number. It is often impossible for a woman to become pregnant by in vitro fertilization with her own eggs. If a woman wavers for too long, thinking that she gives birth at 45 or 50, she likely will not be able to carry her own child, ” says Edward Ambartsumian.
Right to choose
The dream of motherhood in different centers costs women 300 or 350 thousand drams [about $ 620-720] for intrauterine insemination. And they have the opportunity to choose.
“A woman may want a child with blue eyes, or a child who is tall. She may want the child to resemble the man of her dreams, or someone with whom she once had cordial relations, ” says the director of the reproductive center.
Donor data are not disclosed in Armenian centers. But, according to Eduard Ambartsumian, they are already reviewing this issue in the EU, where the issue of a child’s right to be in contact with their donor has arisen.
More women than men
The executive representative of the UN Population Fund, Tsovinar Harutyunyan, believes that the most obvious reason for this is migration. Men leave for work. And 80 percent of migrants are men of active reproductive age.
“If we consider a group of 20 to 40-year-old men, the healthy reproductive age, here we have 40,000 less men than women, ” says Tsovinar Harutyunyan.
According to her, this is a serious problem, as many women for this reason cannot start a family. Those who want to have children start to consider artificial insemination:
“The state should provide a favorable atmosphere, conditions so that women who want to have children, becoming single mothers, can enjoy this right. The state should take measures to destroy stereotypes so that women can fully enjoy their rights without humiliation. Meanwhile, we must eliminate the belief that women are machines for childbearing. ”
Mher Manukyan of the UN Population Fund believes that this problem can be resolved with the improvement of the economic situation in the country. When work returns to Armenia so will the men:
“However, besides the quantitative imbalance, there is an educational and qualitative imbalance. There are studies that show that women usually marry men who are equal to themselves or have a higher status in society. For men, everything is different – they can marry a woman of any social status.
For women who have a job and a position in society, the choice is somewhat limited. There are thirty and forty years old women who say that they cannot find a man. ”
“I decided on artificial insemination”
Emma Sargsyan never met the man of her dreams. But he has already achieved serious success in her career, is financially independent and can ensure a safe life for his child.
“I’ve already decided on artificial insemination. With a child I hope to find the meaning of life and be happy, ”she says.
Nune Kirakosyan, who has already undergone the entire process, advises women to live their life for themselves and not for others, not even family. In the end, it is the woman’s choice.
This project is funded through the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program, U.S. Embassy Tbilisi. The contents of this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of State.