THRIVE is an AIWA-SF April project dedicated to highlighting Armenians who are doing amazing things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we change our lens a bit and take a retrospective look at some of the women who were among the first in their fields. Throughout history and currently, there are so many individuals doing extraordinary things to inspire and make impact. April 24 is a somber day as we remember the difficult history that all Armenians worldwide share. As part of AIWA-SF Thrive we decided to highlight some Armenian women who were born in the 1800s and contributed in significant ways to our world.
Diane Apcar was born on October 12, 1859 in Rangoon, British Burma. She passed on July 8, 1937 at the age of 77 in Yokohama, Japan. She was a writer, humanitarian and ambassador. She served as the ambassador to Japan from 1918 to 1920. She was the first Armenian women diplomat and perhaps the first women to have ever been appointed to any diplomatic post!
A quick glance at any world map will show that Armenia is a landlocked country. Thus, it is quite noteworthy to learn that, Anita Caracotchian (Anita Conti) who was born on May 17, 1899 in Paris, France was among the first oceanographers! A love for the seas, she was always exploring and documenting what she saw. It is noteworthy to learn that even during Anita’s time, issues associated with industrial fishing and problematic fishing practices existed, as she is known to have published many reports addressing this.
Perhaps the first Armenian feminist, Srpouhi Dussap, was born in 1840 in the Ortakoy district of Constantinole. She was the first female Armenian novelist. A pioneer, Srpouhi addressed female inequality and advocated for female education. Her works helped inspire and pave the way for other writers including Zabel Yesayan.
Zaruhi Kavaljian is known as the first female doctor in Turkey. In 1898 Zaruhi graduated from the American Girls’ College in Adapazar and came to the United States because the Ottoman Empire would not allow women to study medicine. In 1903 she graduated from the University of Illinois, Department of Medicine. During World War One, she helped heal wounded soldiers. She was also a professor at the American Girls College after she moved back to Istanbul, where she was known as Dr. Kaval.
Zabelle Yesayan was born on February 4, 1878 in the Ottoman Empire. She passed at the age of 65 in 1943 in Siberia. Zabelle Yesayan is regularly referenced as an inspirational writer, poet and teacher. According to the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA), several of Yesayan’s works were published in the literary journal Pangaryus as part of AIWA’s series called Treasury of Armenian Women’s Literature.
There are several historic Armenian leaders celebrated as trailblazers. As we prepared this piece, we were drawn to many publications highlighting Armenian females, included one by Armenians Today: http://hayernaysor.am/en/archives/272058. It was also endearing to learn of so many Armenian females who were honored as leaders in their own right.
Today, as Armenians worldwide take a moment to reflect on our history and heritage, we might take a moment to think about the journey of our own families and the inspiring stories that are the fabric that bind us today. Regardless or where your inspiration comes from, there is no doubt that we are still here. We are seeds and we not only survived but we are thriving.
Thank you to those who survived so we can thrive and continue their legacy…
We invite you to share your survive and thrive story with us!
The Armenian International Women’s Association is a dynamic global 501(c)3 dedicated to empowerment, education and enrichment. Through many projects and initiatives, AIWA is dedicated to inspiring, empowering and connecting Armenian women worldwide.
AIWA-SF is an affiliate chapter of the Armenian International Women’s Association, the EIN #: 04-3113182. Donations marked for AIWA-SF are routed to the affiliate chapter.
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