IMF, World Bank, USAID Representatives in Armenia on Achievements, Challenges, and Growth

By Adrineh Der-Boghossian, Julya Sahakyan, Syuzanna Smbatyan, and Vanuhi Matevosyan, CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellows

A three-part series

CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellows Julya Sahakyan, Syuzanna Smbatyan, and Vanuhi Matevosyan on September 29 and October 3 met with the heads of three major institutions in Armenia: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative to Armenia Teresa Daban Sanchez, USAID Armenia Mission Director Karen R. Hilliard, and World Bank Country Manager Laura Bailey to ask them about their institutions’ priorities and achievements in Armenia, challenges that were particular to their experience in the country, and what they liked the most and the least in Armenia.

Part 3. Being a high-level women official in Armenia.

Asked “What are some challenges that are particular to your experience in Armenia, a country where the majority of state and other prominent institutions are headed by men?”, all three interviewees said their experience of being a woman in charge of a major institution in an environment where many of the public officials are men is not unique to Armenia.

“I find that if there are any gender issues or if the men that I deal with have any particular attitudes about dealing with a woman, the polite nature of Armenian culture would prevent them from ever expressing it. And so, I discern no difficulty, challenges, or obstacles in my interaction with either men or women leaders in Armenia,” said the USAID representative, Hilliard, mentioning that her relationships with counterparts in all the countries in which she’s worked have been “very fluid, very easy, and based on mutual respect.”

The IMF representative Teresa Daban Sanchez was impressed by the high level of professionalism of the Armenian authorities. “When everybody behaves in a professional way, a gender doesn't matter, [if] you are a woman or a man,” she said, adding that she has a good working relationship with all her counterparts.

Ms. Sanchez, however, said it would be better if there was some diversity among decision-makers in Armenia in both the public and private sectors. As she noted, her impression was that Armenia is still in the process of empowering women.” Though, Armenia might be lagging behind other countries, Daban Sanchez opined, it’s only a matter of time until it catches up.

What the World Bank representative, Bailey, preferred to stress, however, were not the differences but the similarities between Armenia and other countries. These are some of her remarks on the issue:

“I think that when you are in a position of leadership you take very seriously the fact that you are representing not just your institution […], but also all the people who work with you.

When I go to a meeting with the government, when I sit in a meeting with ministers, I am representing not just the World Bank, this institution, I am representing every Armenian man and woman who works here in my office.

It’s my responsibility to represent them with integrity, to be very clear and honest in my communication, and to bring all of the best technical knowledge that we have and offer it, whether it’s in a discussion with the Minister for Energy or a discussion with an environmental civil society organization.

No matter who it is from the Armenian side, if I bring a great degree of technical value, if I bring a great deal of integrity, then my experience is people will listen. They will not perhaps worry too much about whether I am a man or a woman. What they are looking for is the value that I bring.”

CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellows: Adrineh, Syuzanna, Julya, Vanuhi