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Zabel Yessayan: A Brave New Voice

Judith Saryan

Ms. Saryan presents the early years of Zabel Yessayan's lifelong commitment to writing and activism.

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March 2017


Zabel Yessayan: A Brave New Voice

Zabel Yessayan was one of the leading voices of her time, an advocate for social justice and women’s rights in Ottoman Armenian society. In this video, Judith Saryan describes an important period in Yessayan’s life, when at 17 she left her childhood home in Constantinople to study at the Sorbonne in Paris and began what would become a lifelong career in writing and activism. Unafraid to fight for her convictions even in the face of harsh criticism, Zabel published essays and articles about women’s issues both in Paris and back at home in Constantinople, where she would eventually return to continue her work.


After 37 years in finance, Judith Saryan changed direction and embarked on a career in publishing, editing and writing. In partnership with the Armenian International Women's Association (AIWA), she helped to publish three works in English translation by Zabel Yessayan. Ms. Saryan also recently started a blog, where one of her recent entries entitled The Swallow is about her grandmother who was a refugee in Syria.