What Is the Womanly Face of War?

August 31, 2022
What is the womanly face of war? UkraineWorld spoke to Viktoriia Arnautova, independent gender expert. Key points – in our brief, #UkraineWorldAnalysis:

1. On the “Military Duty and Military Service” law and its results

  • The document was created in the wake of the general movement of the state to inclusion and diversity expenditure, in particular in the defense sector. The main idea behind the “Military Duty and Military Service” law is to expand women's access to military service, as well as the range of possibilities open to women who want to serve their country under arms and to record additional professional resources.
  • I think we will receive some clarifications on procedural outcomes as women pass through the TR and SSC (Territorial Recruitment and Social Support Centers) registration process. It would be beneficial to include gender expertise more broadly in order to make defending Ukraine more gender-inclusive.

2. On the involvement of servicewomen in Russia`s military

  • The gender component is one of the fronts on which Russia waged hybrid warfare against Ukraine far before the start of aggression in 2014, and it has always been used to provoke outrage in public opinion. There are women in the Russian Armed Forces, but the specifics are in the patriarchal structure itself. There is room for women to hold traditionally female positions, like cooks and nurses.
  • At the same time, there are women among those who torture and kill Ukrainian prisoners of war. Russia`s war, as carried out by both men and women, is based on misanthropy, not honor and dignity.

3. On the gender agenda

  • Since 2014, the field uniform has become better. However, there are clear limitations on resources, and quite often expenses for providing uniforms falls upon soldiers` shoulders. The first wave of preparation for women’s military uniforms has taken place, but a centralized approach is lacking.
  • There are two ways of reforming – either to manufacture uniforms for women according to female templates, as the size grids for women and men are different, or change the scheme of supplying uniforms to the army, so that soldiers are reimbursed for their uniform expenses.

4. On plans for improving conditions for military servicewomen

  • There is a departmental plan by the Ministry of Defense to carry out a National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security for 2025 in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
  • Without an institutional mechanism - a separate unit for gender integration in the Armed Forces, an adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, a network of advisers, certain adopted policies and procedures, trained personnel, the implementation of the plan remains difficult. Otherwise, biases in commanders’ personal attitudes towards women will prevail over institutionalized policy.

5. On the presence of women in the Armed Forces and its influence on the development of society

  • Positions held by military servicewomen are becoming more commonplace. As a society democratizes, the level of inclusiveness also increases.
  • We will be able to see a liberalization of the military in terms of gender acceptance in the near future as a critical mass of women with the proper education and experience works their way through the ranks.
  • Another key feature of the development of gender policy in the Armed Forces is that it is part of a nationwide movement.

Viktoriia Arnautova, independent gender expert

This material was prepared with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.

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