Ukrainian female soldiers have waited years for uniforms

Want to read in Dutch? Click here

More than two years after the start of the war, the women in the Ukrainian army have finally received appropriate uniforms. The government has allocated nearly 3 million euros for this now large group of female soldiers. Some of them were already serving in the military before the war. But what have they been wearing up until now? And why did it take so long? I delved into it.

Ukrainian female soldiers have waited years for uniforms
Anastasia Mokhina, one of the women fighting in Ukraine

Female Soldiers Fight for Their Country

On February 24, 2022, Russia started the war against Ukraine—a terrible conflict that continues to this day.

Soon, the men in Ukraine were mobilized to fight for their country. However, there was also a growing group of women who wanted to join the fight. Unfortunately, the army only provided combat clothing designed for the male body. When the women tried to wear these, they quickly found them too loose, leaving them inadequately protected.

Although the government did not provide suitable clothing, the women were determined to serve in the military. The numbers vary each month, but it is estimated that there are now 50,000 to 60,000 women involved, with about 5,000 to 6,000 of them serving on the front lines.


The establishment of aid organizations

Despite risking their lives daily, there was silence from the government. Their work was appreciated, as stated in newspapers. This is what Ukrainian politicians and top officials said. But they did not receive proper protective gear. Thus, the women had to modify their clothing with extra buttons, elastic bands, and pins.

Gradually, more initiatives emerged where Ukrainian women set up aid organizations. For example, consider Zemliachky. This organization specifically focuses on the needs of women in the military. At the central collection point, a group of volunteers works daily to prepare packages. These packages contain more than just combat clothing. Many women in the military suffer from urinary tract infections, so medications for this are also provided, along with menstrual products, bras, lotions for dry skin, and many other essential items.

Through word-of-mouth and international media attention, Zemliachky became increasingly well-known. Within a year, the organization had already received one million euros in support. This support consists of 20% direct donations, with the rest coming from services and products. Medical companies, beauty salons, and even the gaming industry contributed.

Meanwhile, the volunteers were busy raising money to purchase the necessary clothing and products. They now receive dozens of orders per day. Due to the large shortage, the Dutch government decided to donate clothing. Ukraine received 65 cubic meters of materials specifically for the women in the military.


Working toward a structural solution

The Kiev-based organization ArmWomenNow believes it’s time for a structural solution. After all, all these initiatives are temporary fixes. So, the volunteers started sewing themselves. After the nonprofit organization made 5,000 uniforms, a working group was established. Various parties, including the Ministry of Defense, joined. For months, different clothing items and underwear were tested during training exercises. Uniforms were even developed for pregnant soldiers.

On August 5, 2023, Hanna Malyar, then the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense, finally approved the order for a female summer uniform. By that time, the war had been ongoing for over a year and a half. The minister stated that this made the country one of the first in the world to do so. According to her, there are almost no countries, even within NATO, that have combat uniforms for women.

This is more of an excuse than an explanation. The claim that they are one of the first countries in the world to produce such uniforms is not true. In the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands (partially), Denmark, and Australia, female soldiers have been wearing uniforms designed for their bodies for years. The list of countries is even longer. This is not the first time Ukraine has dealt with fighting women; since 2018, they have been allowed to work on the front lines.


Ukrainian female soldiers have waited years for uniforms

Yes, you read that correctly. These women have been fighting in men’s clothing for the past six years. Even after the approval in August, it took more than four months to tender the clothing order. They wanted to conduct additional tests with female body armor first. The clothing tender was not announced until early January 2024. They ordered 65,000 sets of summer clothing and 100,000 sets of women’s underwear.

On May 25, 2024, it was announced that 90% of the female soldiers had received their clothing packages. According to Dmytro Klymenkov, the current Deputy Minister of Defense, it is impressive that the government accomplished this.

“Despite the large-scale war, the Ministry of Defense is working to ensure equality between our male and female defenders. We must guarantee equal opportunities for everyone defending our country. Therefore, the purchase of military women’s uniforms is an important step in creating comfortable conditions for our female defenders. (…) These purchases are about respecting equality and justice within the ranks of the armed forces.”


Thank you, ladies

They make it seem like it’s exceptional to treat men and women equally by purchasing these uniforms. As if they deserve a pat on the back. Bravo for protecting the female soldiers as well as the male ones!

You could also turn it around. It is the government’s duty to protect soldiers in the war as best as possible. So, thank you, ladies, for fighting so long without proper protection. For taking on more risks daily than your male colleagues. For the government not intervening sooner and relying too long on volunteer initiatives.

Let’s hope that the women and men can soon put away their uniforms and that this war will be over.



Geef een reactie

Het e-mailadres wordt niet gepubliceerd. Vereiste velden zijn gemarkeerd met *

CommentLuv badge