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5 Jun, 2024 14:59

Enlist more women to free up men for front line – Ukrainian deputy PM

Kiev is struggling to mobilize enough soldiers to keep fighting against Russia
Enlist more women to free up men for front line – Ukrainian deputy PM

Placing more women in charge of military mobilization in Ukraine would free up men for combat roles, Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk has suggested.

Kiev has recently overhauled its mobilization system in an attempt to boost conscription rates and deploy more troops in the conflict with Russia. Reforms have included the introduction of an online service, which fighting-age men can use for an obligatory update of their personal data.

Unlike Ukrainian men, women are not subject to forced conscription, but can serve in the military and can also volunteer their details. Commenting on claims by the Defense Ministry on Tuesday that over 180,000 women had done so, Vereshchuk described the female population as “a great pool of personnel for the system of conscription centers, including managerial positions.”

“By boosting the enrollment of women to work in conscription, men could be freed up for combat units,” the senior official suggested on social media.

Draft avoidance has emerged as a major problem for Ukraine as its frontline casualties pile up. Some men are even willing to risk their lives to escape the country. Last week, the Ukrainian Border Guard reported that it had recovered the bodies of 45 people who had drowned while attempting to cross the Tisza river, which runs along the frontier with Hungary and Romania.

Officials are attempting to address manpower shortages by turning to reserves previously considered inadequate for military service, such as prison inmates and people with milder medical conditions. Kiev also reportedly intends to put deserters back into action if they change their minds and volunteer for frontline duty.

Meanwhile, the government has been nudging women to join the armed forces, using  the language of female empowerment as an argument. Economy Minister Yulia Sviridenko said in April that gender equality demands greater female participation in demining efforts.

“At this moment we have noticeable results. The average women inclusion rate… has reached some 30%,” she reported, noting that this aligns with NATO levels.

Last week, Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov estimated Ukrainian military losses at over 35,000 in May alone.