A female soldier of the Ukrainian army in action around the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut (archive image). © LIBKOS/DPA
Around 60,000 female soldiers serve in the Ukrainian army. Many of them are still fighting sexism and stereotypes - in addition to the Russian invasion.
Kyiv - Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, a relatively large number of female soldiers have been fighting on the front lines. According to the U.S. Embassy, around 60,000 female soldiers will serve in the Ukrainian army and protect their homeland from Russian attacks. But there are always reports of sexism, even within their own ranks.
The Ukrainian portal Kyiv Independent spoke with a soldier on behalf of a woman: Yuliia Mykytenko. She reports sexist comments such as: "You're a girl, how can you go to the front?" or: "Aren't you afraid of the shelling?" What is meant is: fear, because she is a woman.
Women fight sexism and stereotypes in Ukrainian army
The 27-year-old said that she had learned to deal with it and devote herself to her task: Mykytenko is a senior lieutenant and commander of an aerial reconnaissance squad that was deployed near Bakhmut. Gender discrimination has declined over the years, she explained, but a traditionally male-dominated mentality still prevails in the army. Combat capability on the battlefield is still judged by gender.
When Mykytenko was introduced to her platoon, 80 percent of the soldiers asked to be transferred. They would not have wanted to be subordinate to a woman. The fight against stereotypes is still ongoing, Mykytenko said. It is only since 2018 that female soldiers have been legally equal to their male colleagues, before that they were not allowed to serve on the front line. Of the approximately 60,000 female soldiers, about 5000,<> women are currently in active combat positions. According to the Kyiv Independent, the number is growing, but the fighters are still clearly outnumbered.
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Of the officers, only 8.9 percent are women, none of whom hold a higher military position. That's according to a March report by the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation. But the Russian invasion in February 2022 has strengthened the presence of women in the Ukrainian army, tens of thousands have joined the army. For many, it is also a decision that is associated with personal suffering: Mykytenko says she lost her husband and father in the conflict with Russia, which has now been going on for nine years. (FMT)