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High heels at work, it’s a topic I’ve written about before. Although heels being mandatory is frowned upon by many, it is still something that happens, mainly in corporate positions and representative jobs such as flight attendants. But walking in heels in the army, that sounds very strange. And yet it happens.
In early July, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense released a statement about the preparations underway for the independence parade on the 24th of August. The photos showed female soldiers practicing for this annual parade in high heels.
Female soldiers in Ukraine have to walk in heels
Shortly after the publication, was a wave of criticism, and the Ministry of Defense removed the article and the photos. Another article about the parade, which appeared simultaneously on the ministry’s website, has remained. Here the female soldiers have their say. They said that the high heels are more challenging than their usual shoes, but they do their best. We can also read that the ladies started practicing for the parade a month ago because of the new shoes.
Meanwhile, the head of the Ukrainian Defense department stands accused of sexism and deliberately insulting women. The controversy has caused a stir not only in the media but also within politics. Inna Sovsun of Ukraine’s pro-European Golos party has said that she can hardly imagine a more idiotic and harmful idea. “Female soldiers, like their male colleagues, risk their lives for Ukraine every day and do not deserve to be mocked.” Several politicians have challenged Andriy Taran, the defense minister (pictured below), to wear high heels on the day.
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Unfortunately no news
It is good to see that there has been such outrage worldwide. It is, of course, ridiculous that female soldiers in Ukraine have to wear heels. No one should be forced to walk on heels at work. But it still happens, not just in Ukraine but all over the world.
In 2019, the Japanese Minister of Health, Work, and Welfare made the news because he called high heels ‘necessary’ in the workplace. He didn’t agree with a petition that was created to ban dress codes that force women to wear high heels to work. Fortunately, in England, politicians take the requirement to wear heels at work a little more seriously. In 2017 PwC came under fire for sacking a female employee that refused to work in high heels. A committee appointed to investigate this phenomenon concluded that this happens regularly. Following the investigation, the government promised to monitor companies that have such dress codes.
And unfortunately, this also happens closer to home. Some time ago there was a story about a Dutch woman who, on arriving for a job interview, was offered a pair of heels to put on before entering the interview room. So yes, mandating high heels is happening everywhere. But let’s keep talking about it, name and shame the companies enforcing this rule and stand up to this form of sexism. Heels should be a personal choice, not an obligation. And not a way to portray hard-working soldiers as sexual entertainment.