Ukraine’s Women Warriors

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

After Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 25, 2022, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, called for civilian men to stay and fight against the Russians (Ukraine’s women were advised to flee the country with their children). The Ukrainian resistance has been the topic of numerous US news reports, but Ukrainian women who elected not to evacuate in favor of joining in the resistance to defend their nation have received less news coverage. Ukrainian women who are ordinary citizens, not trained soldiers, have also taken up arms to defend towns and cities through Ukraine as part of the country’s volunteer defense battalions, the Territorial Defense Forces, Adam Kaufman reported for Women’s eNews. Kaufman’s article commented on the photo of a dancer with the Kiev National Opera, Lesya Vorotnyk, holding an AK-47 rifle, which had gone viral.

In addition to civilian women acting in defense, Ukrainian women also make up fifteen percent of the nation’s soldiers, Kaufman reported. They are “frontline warriors,”  Kaufman wrote, serving as snipers and in other combat roles, not just “logistical support roles or other rear guard jobs.”

On March 16, 2022, Business Insider published an article, “Ukrainian Women at War against Russia Are Going Viral for All the Wrong Reasons,” which noted the “breathless” tone of media portrayals of Ukrainian women and contended that women’s participation “in political violence, in Ukraine and elsewhere” should not be portrayed as unusual. “To the contrary, it is an integral and routine part of conflict dynamics,” Business Insider reported.  On March 18, 2022, the Washington Post ran a detailed article profiling four of Ukraine’s female combatants, noting that “32,000 women belonged to the country’s armed forces before Russia invaded Ukraine” and that “[m]ore have joined the fight since then.”

Source: Adam Kaufman, “Fe-MAN-ist Voices: Women Warriors of Ukraine II,” Women’s eNews, March 12, 2022.

Student Researcher: Dominique Quigley (Salisbury University)

Faculty Evaluator: Jennifer Cox (Salisbury University)