Ukrainian military celebrates surge in female volunteers due to war with Russia

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The Ukrainian army has seen a surge in the number of women who have volunteered to join its ranks. deadly war against Russia.

About 1,000 women have volunteered to fight since the start of the war in February, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said this week, according to a defense ministry report.

“From February 24 to today, we have mobilized about 1,000 women – these are those who voluntarily came and declared their desire to be mobilized,” she said.

LVIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 24: Ukrainian female soldiers, before heading to the front line, see Ukrainian displaced civilians continue to crowd around the train station, fleeing ongoing Russian attacks, in Lvov, Ukraine on March 24, 2022.

LVIV, UKRAINE – MARCH 24: Ukrainian female soldiers, before heading to the front line, see Ukrainian displaced civilians continue to crowd around the train station, fleeing ongoing Russian attacks, in Lvov, Ukraine on March 24, 2022.
(Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu agency via Getty Images)

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In anticipation Russian invasionUkrainian lawmakers have revised the current law, according to which women between the ages of 18 and 60, “fit for military service” and working in certain specialties, can fight in the armed forces of Ukraine during the war.

The recruitment of women to the ranks was expanded to include a large number of qualifying occupations for compulsory registration, including librarians, journalists, musicians and psychologists.

The conscription of women into military service in Ukraine is nothing new, and women have been serving in the Ukrainian armed forces since 1993, following Kyiv’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Not all female conscripts will see the front lines, as many of them have traditionally helped with logistical support. Although in 2014, when Russia first invaded the Donbas region, 257 women were awarded military service awards, nine of which were awarded posthumously, according to the human rights organization Security Women.

Ukrainian female soldiers, before heading to the front lines, see Ukrainian displaced civilians continue to crowd around a train station to escape ongoing Russian attacks, in Lvov, Ukraine March 24, 2022.

Ukrainian female soldiers, before heading to the front lines, see Ukrainian displaced civilians continue to crowd around a train station to escape ongoing Russian attacks, in Lvov, Ukraine March 24, 2022.
(Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Despite the possibility of conscripting women into military service during wartime, Malyar said that since 2014, not a single woman has been forcibly mobilized.

Despite Russia’s continued offensive into Ukraine, the deputy defense minister said there are no plans to expand the law to include additional groups of women subject to military service.

On the morning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that all men between the ages of 18 and 60 remain in Ukraine and be ready to join its fighting forces.

“Our servicemen need this support. Most importantly, they need the support of our population,” he said. “We have an army of strong people. Our population is also a powerful army.”

When the war began, Ukraine had about 196,600 active military personnel and another 900,000 reservists, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Ukrainian army women take part in a parade rehearsal in the center of Kyiv on August 20, 2018 before the celebration of Ukraine's Independence Day on August 24.

Ukrainian army women take part in a parade rehearsal in the center of Kyiv on August 20, 2018 before the celebration of Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24.
(SERGEY SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

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In 2020, women made up nearly 16 percent of Ukraine’s military, but that percentage is likely to have changed due to the sheer number of reservists called up to fight against Russia.

It is not clear how large Ukraine’s fighting force has become with the inclusion of male conscripts and additional female volunteers.