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Ukraine’s Female Combatants: The Influence of Conflict on Gender Roles and Empowerment

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Gender and Power in Eastern Europe

Part of the book series: Societies and Political Orders in Transition ((SOCPOT))

Abstract

When war broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014, many women assumed positions in unofficial volunteer battalions and the Ukrainian Army that were not intended for them. They became snipers, infantry soldiers, and drone pilots. Before the war, positions open to women in the army were limited to those with “typically female” connotations, such as medic, radio operator, seamstress, or cook. The structure alone of the distribution of tasks in the military provides an indication of the roles that women in Ukrainian society are traditionally expected to occupy: supporter, organizer, and caregiver. And, even though equal rights are enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution, society seems to continue to be male dominated. According to the United Nations, just over 12% of the members of the Ukrainian parliament are female (United Nations Ukraine n.d.)—compared to 31% in Germany (Deutscher Bundestag 2019).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Translated from German by Sophie Schlondorff.

  2. 2.

    With the new government, the number of women in the parliament increased by 20% in 2019. From 2005 to 2018, the increase was from 5 to 12%.

  3. 3.

    All interviews were conducted and translated [from the Russian to the German] by the author. The quotes cited in this study have also been translated by the author.

  4. 4.

    All names have been changed to protect the identities of those interviewed.

  5. 5.

    The interviews with Yelyzaveta and Veronica have been conducted in English at the request of the interview partners.

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Correspondence to Rebecca Barth .

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Barth, R. (2021). Ukraine’s Female Combatants: The Influence of Conflict on Gender Roles and Empowerment. In: Bluhm, K., Pickhan, G., Stypińska, J., Wierzcholska, A. (eds) Gender and Power in Eastern Europe. Societies and Political Orders in Transition. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-53130-0_6

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