Armenian female warriors: most influential of them of all times

Armenian female warriors

Armenia’s history has been full of episodes marked with battles and wars. As a result, our people learned how to fight heroically. You can see the patriotism in every Armenian warrior as they prove their love for their homeland and people. Below are listed only some of the Armenian female warriors who had left an impact on the history pages of Armenia.

Notable Armenian female warriors:

  • “Armenouhi” Khanum Ketenjian
  • “Sosse Mayrig” Vartanian
  • “Roubina” Sophie Areshian-Ohanchanian
  • “106-year old Armenian woman”
  • Sue Sarafian Jehl

So, now let’s go over what these female warriors have done and the bravery they showed over the span of their lives. And of course, don’t forget to add other Armenian female warriors to this list. You can share your suggestions with me on Instagram or Twitter with #ArmeniaTravelTips. I look forward to it!

“Armenouhi” Khanum Ketenjian

Armenouhi was one of the bravest Armenian female warriors that existed in the history pages of Armenia. She was one of the commanders during the Urfa Resistance in 1915, an important period for Armenians who were literally fighting for their existence at the time. Regardless of the difficulties, she was able to manage her well-planned operation against the Turkish guardhouse with the other 30 female fighters of her battalion.

After they successfully delivered their mission, the Turks captured them. Even though they could stay alive if they agreed to marry the enemy soldiers, they refused. Armenouhi even managed to kill their captain and only after that, she was shot to death. In my books, she’s a real bad-ass and someone who stood for her values till the end. She embodies the spirit of an Armenian woman, strong and persistent, very opinionated and fearless. As you can see from my post about Armenian female heroes these traits are very common among almost all of them. As a nation, we quite literally owe our survival to our women.

Khanen Ketenjian
“Armenouhi” Khanum Ketenjian, Source: Hairenik Archives

Sosse “Mayrig” Vartanian

Sosse Vartanian was probably one of the most caring and compassionate Armenian female warriors of all time. That’s why everyone would call her “Mayrig” (which means mother) to describe her character and the maternal concern she had for those around her despite operating in very hostile military conditions.

She was definitely one of the most courageous female fedayeen (volunteers leaving their families to form irregular armed units for self-defense) who participated in the battles of Babshen and Sassoun. In 1899 Sosse helped her husband Aghbyur Serob to continue fighting against the enemy when he was wounded. After her husband died from a bullet, she never stopped shooting the enemy even when her only child also died on the battlefield. Eventually, she also got wounded and taken captive.

Well, Sosse’s life has not been easy. If you’re interested you can read more about her life and death at the respective links. What’s clear to me from these stories is that we should give our female warriors who have proven themselves in the battle more credit and visibility in our public spaces and history books.

“Roubina” Sophie Areshian-Ohanchanian

Speaking of everyone listed here, I cannot skip another example of a female warrior who fought for her people tirelessly. From a young age, Roubina Areshian was included in the Armenian national liberation movement. She was a key figure in a group that attempted to take the life of Sultan Abdul Hamid II who killed many Armenians prior to that. Her idea was to explode the place where Sultan would usually hang out with his clerks, however, he survived.

Despite failing at taking Sultan’s life, Roubina managed to organize the killing of many Ottoman officials who were responsible for policies that targeted the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. After this failed attempt, she tried to help those arrested from their group. She exemplifies dedication and persistence for me.

Roubina Areshian
“Roubina” Sophie Areshian-Ohanchanian, Source: Wikimedia

106-year old Armenian woman

In 1990, there was a 106-year old Armenian woman who was photographed safeguarding her house with an AKM rifle. She was sitting in front of her house in Tegh village, located close to the city of Goris. This was during a period of armed conflicts in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region (of back then Soviet Azerbaijan), and the rights of self-determination of the local Armenians. These hostilities led to the displacement of many individuals from their homes.

She might not be a warrior in the classical sense, but this image has traveled the world quite a bit. Not many people know this iconic lady’s name, but certainly enough have heard about her. I believe she is a good example of someone heroically protecting their home, while completely ignoring “trivial” circumstances such as their own age. You can even tell from her eyes that she witnessed a lot of violence toward her people. Yet it hasn’t hampered her courage a single bit. Her behavior is truly impressive to me which is why she found her place in this list of Armenian female warriors.

Armenian female warriors
Elderly Armenian Woman Guards Home, 1990 Source: UN Photo

Sue Sarafian Jehl

If you think about the most influential and impactful women in the military, Sue is one of the first Armenian female warriors that will come to your mind. She was born in an Armenian family of immigrants who escaped from genocide in the Ottoman Empire and relocated to the United States. Sue was one of the first women to be included in the military system in the USA and always thanked the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) for landing her that opportunity. Later, she paved the way for other women making military service in the US a much more inclusive place.

Sue Sarafian greatly took part in many significant wartime events during WWII. She also witnessed the liberation of France, the collapse of Nazi Germany and many more. Even though serving in the US Army forces has not been easy for her in terms of constantly feeling unwelcome as a woman, she continued to focus on fulfilling her duties as a military professional. I am sure now you can see the tremendous role she played in history as an Armenian female warrior. You can read more about her at the link.

Sue Sarafian Jehl
Sue Sarafian Jehl, Photo credits: Proudbolsahye on Wikimedia, Archives of the Jehl family (PD)

Final thoughts on notable Armenian women warriors

What can I say? Women play a tremendous role in Armenian society, like in any other. Yet, as a predominantly traditionalistic nation we often tend to stereotype our women into certain archetypal roles, disregarding the width of the range of their talents and skills. I wanted to give you a showcase of brave, beautiful, smart and overall amazing Armenian women of the past who as warriors played a significant role in our fight for the right to live peacefully on our ancestral land.

On the other hand, the idea of serving our homeland is not only noticeable in Armenians in war situations. Far from that! While some Armenian women become warriors, others become notable celebrities and support their country by using their platform and audience. Here are some of the Armenian female celebrities that are worth knowing.

I hope you enjoyed going through this list of notable female warriors in Armenian history. I’m sure the list is far from being exhaustive. So, please get in touch with me on Instagram or Twitter with #ArmeniaTravelTips, and let me know who I should add to it. I will surely use some of your suggestions. 😉

Featured image credits: UN Photo/Armineh Johannes