Being A Woman in the Village

Nelli Shishmanyan

The lifestyle of the women, living in Armenian villages significantly differs from the ones of urban-dwelling women. There are numerous props of life, which make the life of a city woman easier, however in the villages even earning money sometimes demands a lot of physical effort, patience and toughness.

Missis Jenya lives with her son, but keeping to the traditions of the hospitable Shamshadin people, she fills her storage with preserved goods every summer, to be helpful to her city relatives.

Tehmine is feeding a hen, which should lay eggs later. Taking into consideration the pollution nowadays, it is important to have a little space, from where one could feed the family with ecologically clean products.

Armenia is rich with fruits in the fall, and since the women of the villages do not have any other source of income, they try to sell the goods on the roads.

Lavash is a type of Armenian bread that can be preserved for a long time. But the baking it demands not a little work. One has to knead the dough, roll it to the needed fineness, light the tonir (a type of vertical ground built oven), and bake it in the tonir leaning down with the half of your body. Some villages use large metal cylindrical cans in the absence of a tonir, burning a fire inside it and baking the lavash on the outer surface.

Misses Yeva and her daugher are preparing the clear the chimney tubes of the oven. Usually men do this type of work, however since Yeva’s husband and son are both in the military and spend most of the time in service, she often has to rely on herself if necessary.

Women living on the borderline have not only a physically hard life, but also their husbands, sons and brothers are involved in peacekeeping, sometimes which costs their lives.

79-year-old grandma Susan spends whole years in the mountains of Shamshadin, 8 km far from the highway. Because of health issues she lost her two sons 10 years ago. She left the town Berd and moved to the mountains. The hut where the old couple lives has no electricity, gas and other necessary things for modern life. They earn their living with livestock.

The life of city women is quite easier, since not all of them have to wash by hands, and dry their clothes on the drier built close to the oven. However in the villages one has to heat the water on the oven, and bathe the child next to the oven, so that it doesn't catch a cold.

Vachik, a man living in Nerkin Karmir aghbyur village, on the border with Azerbaijan, was wounded by a sniper, when working in his vineyard. Vachik’s wife is helping him to store food for the winter.

Many women earn the living of the family participating in the harvesting for the large land-owners.

Despite the fact that many of us store goods for the winter in fridges or buy at the supermarkets, villagers can’t afford such a luxury, and have to rely on their old traditions, preserving some foodstuff, since many of them do not even have the modern fridges. Even if they had such, it would not help much, because in the villages the electricity goes off sometimes.

Taking care of livestock, milking the cows and clearing the area is sometimes on the shoulders of the women as well.

These men gather the whole cattle of the village and move to the mountains in the summer. Here they live with their family in huts, forgetting about anything related to comfort. Women share all kinds of work with men, additionally keeping the children. Despite all that, they don’t stop being wives for their husbands.

Children grow up earlier in villages; most of the latter either do not have kindergartens, or the costs for the latter are not affordable for the parents. The parents have to take the children to the fields or to gardens with them. So the children are involuntarily involved in the work process. Sometimes the older sisters become ‘little mothers’ for the children, forgetting about their own childhood.

Grandma Vardush doesn’t stop working in the farmstead, despite her age; she is trying to help his son in housekeeping as much as possible.



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