Advocacy for Disabled Women in Armenia

Karine Grigoryan
Photo by Darcy Kiefel
In the Spotlight: Agate Center for Women with Disabilities with Special Needs, a Disabled People’s Organization (DPO) located in Gyumri, Armenia

Ms. Karine Grigoryan, founder and President of the Agate Center, shares the motivation behind her work and the status of disability in her country.

What is your mission at Agate?

Our mission is to improve the quality of the life of young girls and women with disabilities in Armenia and to protect their human rights.

What motivates your work? Why do you do the work you do?

My passion is to be helpful to those who experience the same challenges I have faced. Due to my great power of will, industriousness, and my strong and optimistic character, I overcame all these difficulties and gained success. So with my work I want to encourage women with disabilities to follow my example.

What is one accomplishment or highlight of Agate that you’re proud of the most?

During the short time of Agate’s existence, it has gained a good reputation not only in Armenia but at an international level by implementing different national and international level projects.

From your perspective, what is a primary strength of Armenia’s disability community?

In Armenia we have really strong disability leaders standing for their rights and the rights of others from their communities. I have found that the most important leaders of Disabled Peoples’ Organizations (DPOs) unite their efforts to achieve better results.

What could citizens do to enhance inclusion of people with disabilities in Armenia society?

Armenian society must be open to accept differences and realize that people with disabilities have the same rights, and at the same time, responsibilities. People with disabilities don’t need protection; they just need equal opportunities to exercise their rights and to be treated with respect and dignity.

What keeps you up at night?

I have so many ideas. Daytime is not enough to work for the realization of disability rights. That’s why I stay-up late at night (and even when I sleep at night) my  brain is still awake and I am planning my future days and how to manage my huge work.

What is your favorite Armenian cuisine?

Armenian kitchen is very delicious and we have wide range of tasty meals. But my most favorite cuisine is Armenian pork barbeque, which is made on the fire.

More about Agate

The Agate Center for Women with Special Needs provides services, training, advocacy and recreational sport programs for girls and women with disabilities, including swimming and self-defense classes. As a founding member of the National Disability Advocacy Coalition (DAC), Agate works with the Ministry of Sport to promote sport and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities. The US Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia has supported two Agate Center projects:

  1. Publication of the first Armenian-American Sign Language dictionary in 2012
  2. A Democracy Commission initiative to promote civic participation of young women with disabilities in rural areas

The Agate Center partnered with Armenian Association for the Disabled (Pyunic) and MIUSA for a SportsUnited Exchange in 2014.

The Agate Center is the RightsNow! Armenia service provider for the MIUSA-led RightsNow! project (2015-2018).

More about Karine Grigoryan

Ms. Karine Grigoryan is an alumna of two MIUSA women’s leadership programs (2006 and 2010), both conducted in Eugene, Oregon. Ms. Grigoryan led a delegation of women with disabilities to Poland for a youth exchange program, and in 2013, was selected by the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Office to serve in a Women’s Mentoring Program.

Read personal stories from disabled women activists (including Karine) who are working tirelessly to improve disability rights across the globe and support them by purchasing MIUSA’s Brilliant and Resilient: Celebrating the Power of Disabled Women Activists photography book.