It took some time for Lusine Poghosian’s male classmates to adapt to studying alongside her and several other young women at Armenia’s main military academy. They were the first-ever group of female cadets admitted to the Vazgen Sarkisian Military University two and a half years ago.
“In the beginning, it was very hard for the boys to take us seriously. Now they can’t imagine their service without us,” Poghosian says with a grin.
The 20-year-old future artillery officer, clad in camouflage fatigues, exemplifies a growing number and role of women in Armenia’s armed forces, a trend that the recently reshuffled government in Yerevan wants to accelerate. Government officials say the effort is aimed at promoting gender equality, and making more efficient use of the human resources in the small South Caucasus state.
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Emil Danielyan is a Yerevan-based journalist.