Several women in the government and elsewhere protested after pictures emerged showing female soldiers wearing high heels during a rehearsal for a military parade celebrating Ukraine’s independence.
The high heels are a required part of the dress uniform for Ukrainian female soldiers but are not typically used with the standard military fatigues that the soldiers will be marching in. The military did not offer an explanation as to why women were made to march in different footwear than their male comrades, according to the Associated Press.
“The purpose of any military parade is to demonstrate the military ability of the army. There should be no room for stereotypes and sexism,” read a joint statement from three female Cabinet members, including the minister for veterans affairs. Several other women in the government issued statements of their own on social media, with one lawmaker going so far as to accuse the military high command of having a “medievalist” mindset, according to the BBC.
In this photo taken and released by the Ukrainian Defense ministry press-service on July 2, 2021, Ukrainian female soldiers wear heels while taking part in the the military parade rehearsal in Kyiv, Ukraine. Ukraine's defense minister is under pressure from members of the government over the decision to have female military cadets wear mid-heeled pumps in a parade. A joint statement from three Cabinet members, including Minister of Veterans Affairs Yulia Laputina, said “the purpose of any military parade is to demonstrate the military ability of the army. (Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Office via AP) AP
Following the outcry, the Ukrainian military walked back on the requirement. Defense Minister Andriy Taran met with female cadets and promised that “ergonomic” footwear would be made available “in the shortest possible time,” according to the New York Times. The Ministry of Defense released a statement following the visit, admitting, “It is simply inconvenient for female servicemen to walk in such shoes.”
In the midst of its war against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass region, Ukraine has made an effort to integrate women into its armed forces. Feminists in Ukraine and abroad have routinely criticized these efforts, claiming that the military has not done enough to integrate them properly.
Aside from accusing Ukrainian society as a whole of being “patriarchal” and sexist, a 2016 United Nations study titled “Invisible Battalion” leveled several charges of sexism against the Ukrainian military itself. Analyzing warfare and the military through “feminist studies,” the report accused the military of treating women as "second class," failing to supply them with proper uniforms and hygiene products, and failing to take many of them seriously.
One female soldier told investigators, “There is nothing for women in the army. I have an impression there are not women in the army.”
The Ukrainian military has taken several measures to attempt to address these criticisms, such as expanding the allowed combat roles for women in 2018.
Women currently make up 15% of the Ukrainian armed forces, having doubled in number since the war in eastern Ukraine began. One Ukrainian official estimated more than 13,500 women have fought in the current conflict against Russian-backed separatists, according to the BBC.
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Original Author: Brady Knox
Original Location: Ukrainian army under fire for making female soldiers march in high heels