Thank you for joining us tonight as we gather to shine a much-deserved spotlight on the U.S. Embassy’s Women’s Mentoring Program. With this final event, we mark the successful conclusion of the 2016-2017 program. This iteration of the program, which is now in its fourth year, was organized by the Embassy in partnership with the Political Science and International Affairs Program at AUA, as well as the Women and Youth Development and Support NGO. I would like to particularly thank Valentina Gevorgyan, Research Associate at the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis at AUA, and Hasmik Sahakyan, President of Women and Youth Development and Support Center, for their devoted work on this project. Please join me in recognizing Valentina and Hasmik with a round of applause.
As important as that organizational role has been, this program only exists because of the dedication and community service of the women who agree to serve as mentors. During the two years I have served as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, I have had the great fortune to meet with many successful and influential women from a variety of fields and professions, and I have heard the same message over and over again: that without the support of others—employers, universities, mentors, and families—advancement is very difficult. So I want to thank you all for giving so selflessly of your time, for sharing your experience and advice, and for investing in the next generation of Armenian women professionals. I would like to ask all the mentors here tonight to stand up, and for the rest of the audience to give them a round of applause.
And if I may now address this year’s mentees: I salute your dedication to this program as well. We all know how easy it is to say that there is a lack of opportunity, but when it comes down to it, lots of people are not willing to make the real commitment of time and energy that such a program requires. But you did. You demonstrated drive and motivation by participating in this program and investing in your own future. And though this year-long mentoring program has come to an end, I hope the connections you’ve established with your mentor, as well as with other mentors and fellow mentees, will be long-lasting and beneficial to you as you embark on your career.
As we celebrate 25 years of U.S.-Armenian relations this year, I am proud that the U.S. Embassy has partnered with Armenian women, such as yourselves, to help you fulfill your professional ambitions and aspirations – whether via programs such as this one, USAID grants for women-led start-ups, or our support for women in the IT sector, to name just a few of the many initiatives we have supported over the years. We must continue to work together to promote women’s voices, not just because it is the right thing to do, but for the sake of Armenia’s future prosperity.
And now if I may, I would like to turn the mike over to a very special mentor-mentee pair: Lusine Azaryan and Kristina Simonyan. It just so happens that they are both opera singers, and they have graciously offered to perform a song for us as we mark the conclusion of this year’s Mentoring Program. After their performance, the speed networking will start, so please refer to your nametags for details on where to sit for the first round.
On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, thank you once again. I wish you the very best of luck in your current and future careers, and in all your endeavors.