Небайдужа 10:34 08 Mar 2023

Defend, treat and rescue: stories of women bringing Ukraine's victory closer

Women can be different, and that's their strength. They can care for children or be successful managers, work as models or be professional boxers, fight on the battlefield, or save lives in the rear. Rubryka collected stories about how women are bringing our victory closer.

What is the problem?

Help Ukraine in the fight against the enemy in any way

As the full-scale invasion began, millions of Ukrainians needed help. Some are medical, and some are psychological. Some needed a place to sleep after losing their home, and some needed drones and trench candles for the front lines. Volunteers, paramedics, psychologists, and defenders have provided this help daily for over a year. On International Women's Day, Rubryka will tell how women contribute to the victory of Ukraine and why it is essential to talk about it.

What is the solution?
Defend the country

Since 2014, when russia started its aggression against Ukraine, Ukrainian women have been ready to defend their country. Due to hostilities in Ukraine's east, the number of women in the army increased. If in 2015, there were 49,867 women and 2,204 female officers in the ranks of the Armed Forces, in 2020, there were already 56,726 servicewomen and 4,819 female officers.

жінки в ЗСУ

Because of russia's full-scale aggression against Ukraine in 2022, thousands of women turned to military commissars with a desire to mobilize. As of November 2022, 59,786 women were serving in the Armed Forces, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov reported. The figure includes both service members and civilian workers.

As of November 2022, 101 women died on the battlefield, 50 were missing, and more than 100 were wounded. More than 350 women received state awards, including the Heroine of Ukraine award. Some, unfortunately, posthumously.

The title of Heroine of Ukraine was posthumously awarded to the sergeant of the medical service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine of the 58th separate motorized infantry brigade named after Ivan Vyhovsky, Inna Derusova. As a combat medic, she participated in the battles near Okhtyrka, Ukraine's northeastern Sumy region. Inna saved the lives of more than a dozen defenders, risking her own. She died on February 26 due to artillery shelling by russian troops. Until the last minutes, Inna assisted the wounded. She became the first woman to receive the Heroine of Ukraine award posthumously.

Інна Дерусова

Heroine of Ukraine Inna Derusova. Photo: gazeta.ua

Up to 5,000 female military personnel are on the front lines, performing combat tasks and defending the country.

Equality issues and military uniforms for women

Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar reported that Ukraine has one of the largest numbers of women in the Armed Forces among NATO member states. However, Ukrainian women have faced discrimination in the army.

Ukraine legally confirmed equal rights of women and men in the army only in 2018, and women got to occupy several previously unavailable military positions.

Restrictions were also observed in education. Only since 2018 has the Kyiv Military Lyceum, named after Ivan Bohun, begun accepting girls.

Another urgent major need for female defenders is women's military uniforms. Female military personnel has no choice but to wear clothes several times larger than their size. However, such a problem is already being solved. The Arm Women Now social initiative already designs and sews military and tactical clothing for female defenders following international standards and requirements.

The first lady Olena Zelenska's "Barrier-free" project and several volunteer initiatives, for example, "Zemliachky. Ukrainian Front," deal with the issue of creating female uniforms.


"Zemliachky. Ukrainian Front" are providing Ukrainian female defenders with uniforms.

Many problems still need to be solved for women to be as comfortable as possible while serving in the Armed Forces, starting with military uniforms and ending with hygiene products. After all, even after a year of full-scale war, volunteers take care of most of the sanitary needs of servicewomen.

There are still cases of hatred toward women serving in the army or studying in military educational institutions. Despite this, the number of Ukrainian women in the ranks of the Armed Forces is only increasing. And this is the main reason for solving these issues.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian women continue to be scouts, snipers, tankers, gunners, drivers, grenade launchers, cooks, and signallers and defend Ukraine from the enemy.

Save lives

Combat medic Tetiana from the 35th separate brigade of marines, named after Rear Admiral Ostrogradskyi

Defenders confess that it is much easier to go into battle when you know that there is a paramedic nearby. Right now, hundreds of paramedics are saving the lives of military personnel at the "zero" positions, as the Ukrainian military calls the situation when russian soldiers are close enough to see. At any moment, they are ready to be next to the units, evacuate the wounded, and provide emergency aid, saving thousands of lives.

Tetiana is a combat medic in one of the units of the Odesa Marine Brigade. She joined the service almost from the first days of the full-scale invasion. The woman's 25-year experience in intensive care in one of Odesa's district hospitals helps save defenders.

бойовий медик

Photo: 35th separate marine infantry brigade named after rear admiral Ostrogradskyi

Tetiana has a degree in psychology. Until February 24, 2022, as a volunteer, she provided psychological assistance to homeless women and people with challenging life circumstances. Tetiana dreams that all the defenders with whom she serves return home alive and well.

A doctor from Bucha delivered a baby and helped the wounded during the siege 

Until February 24, Iryna Yazova worked at the Irpin Central City Hospital in the Kyiv region. Until March 9, she remained in the city — rescuing the wounded, delivering babies, and helping the sick.

The woman worked in tough conditions — without water, electricity, heating, and gas. During that time, Iryna bandaged a man shot in both legs by the occupiers, delivered her neighbor's baby, and treated the wounds of a one-and-a-half-year-old girl who got under enemy fire during an evacuation attempt. Iryna told Rubryka that she did not consider herself a heroine but was always ready to help people.

Paramedic of the 93rd brigade Yana Rykhlitska saved lives, but could not save herself

Before the full-scale invasion, Yana Rykhlitska worked in an IT company. After February 24, she started actively volunteering, and in May, she began serving as a paramedic.

Яна Рихліцька

This is Yana Rykhlitska. Photo: Serhii Nuzhnenko

Yana died near Bakhmut, one of the hottest areas of hostilities, on March 3, 2023, during the evacuation of wounded soldiers. She will be 29 years old forever. Yana's acquaintances and friends write on social networks that her contribution to the victory is difficult to overestimate — such people are "one in a million."

Volunteer wherever you can

Cook for the military and IDPs 

The contribution of volunteers in this war is difficult to overestimate. They are always nearby to both military and civilians. They are always ready to help, advise, meet evacuees from the frontline areas, find housing, and provide whole units with drones or cars.

Female volunteers manage to be everywhere: they fundraise for drones, bring equipment to defenders, cook homemade meals for them, or help displaced people.

Olena Kozak, a Zhytomyr resident, cooks dishes for defenders — varenyky, potato pancakes, soups in cans and quick meals, and most importantly — meat stew, and sends them with the help of volunteers.

тушонка для військових

Photo: Olena Kozak's Facebook page

Kozak also organizes fundraisers on her Facebook page. Thanks to the donations of caring people, buying necessary medicines, dry showers, goodies, thermal imagers, and other tools for the front is possible.

Helping displaced people in a social restaurant

Yana, a re-settler from Volnovakha, Ukraine's east, volunteers at a social restaurant in Dnipro and helps other IDPs. She said that helping distracts her from memories of traumatic experiences she lived through in her native city, which was almost entirely destroyed by the russians back in February 2022.


Photo: Channel 5

In the restaurant, you can get a hot lunch for free. For this, it is necessary to show the IDP certificate. Yana helps with administrative duties — welcoming guests, issuing lunch vouchers, and ensuring everyone get their portion.

More than 400 portions of hot lunches are cooked in the restaurant daily. In just a few days, they feed more than one and a half thousand people there.

Fundraise and help the army

Victoria Hushel from Kyiv has helped the survivors in Irpin and the service members in the Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk directions.

Victoria's husband went to serve in the army in March. In order not to "go crazy," she decided to help people in Kyiv and Irpin, who suffered greatly during the first months of the war. Subsequently, Viktoria and other volunteers directed aid to the military and, in the fall, founded the "Prominnia Yednosti" charitable foundation.


Photo: "Prominnia Yednosti" Facebook page

The foundation's volunteers mainly provide military equipment, food products, hygiene and necessities, cars, generators, Starlinks, and thermal imagers. Victoria says that there is a need for everything.

Victoria is now trying to attract more help from international organizations to complete more requests for the defenders.

Everyone who brings our victory closer in one way or another deserves respect. Everyone who serves, volunteers, treats, waits, accepts, feeds, educates, and rescues. After all, this is what is gradually approaching the day of Ukraine's victory.


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