In the aftermath of the Russian invasion, tens of thousands of women joined the Ukrainian army. While this contingent of female soldiers is highly respected in the country and fully integrated into the military forces, the material means are not always suitable for them. An association has decided to launch a fundraiser to acquire appropriate equipment. Report by our special correspondents Mélina Huet, Raïd Abu Zaideh and Rob Parsons.
Shura was a stylist until six months ago. She is now a member of the Territorial Defense Forces. Equal with men, she assures our special envoys in Ukraine. Because women must be “ready for anything”, and be “able to do anything”, explains the young woman: “Driving military trucks, digging trenches.”
However, this equity is undermined by the culture of the army, whose equipment was not designed by or for women.
By posing for a photo shoot in her military fatigues, Shura hopes to help change the situation: a percentage of the sale of the jewelry she wears will be donated to Zemlyachki, an association that provides soldiers with suitable equipment free of charge.
“We have found patrons who help us through humanitarian donations,” rejoices Kseniya Draganuk, co-founder of the NGO. Because the material is “very expensive”, she explains. “Helmets need to be lighter and smaller, and you can’t find them so easily on the market.”
In addition to intimate hygiene products and appropriate underwear, Zemlyachki has already provided 300 ballistic protections to Ukrainian combatants.
But the organization will have to redouble its efforts in the coming weeks. Kseniya Draganuk estimates that 50,000 women will need new uniforms as winter approaches.