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Ukraine’s military has seen a spike in the number of women who have volunteered to join its ranks amid its deadly war against Russia.
Roughly 1,000 women have volunteered to fight since the war broke out in February, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar said this week according to a report by the defense ministry.
“From February 24 to today, we have mobilized about 1,000 women – these are those who voluntarily came and declared their desire to be mobilized,” she said.
In the lead-up to Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian lawmakers revised an existing law that could require women ages 18-60 who are “fit for military service” and worked in certain professions to fight in Ukraine’s military during a time of war.
Conscription for women in the ranks was expanded to include a vast number of qualifying professions for mandatory registration, including librarians, journalists, musicians and psychologists, among others.
Female conscription in Ukraine is nothing new and women have been serving in Ukraine’s military since 1993 following Kyiv’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Not all female conscripts will see the front lines as many have traditionally helped with logistical support. Though in 2014 when Russia first invaded the Donbas region, 257 women were granted awards for their combat service – nine of which were awarded posthumously, according to the advocacy organization Security Women.
Despite its ability to conscript women for military service during wartime, Malyar said that not a single woman had been forcibly mobilized since 2014.
Even as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine the Deputy Minister of Defense said there are no plans to expand the law even further to include additional groups of women subject to conscription.
On the morning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy required all men ages 18-60 to remain in Ukraine and be prepared to join its fighting force.
“Our servicemen need this support. The main thing is that they need the support of our population,” he said. “We have an army of powerful people. Our population is also a powerful army.”
When the war began Ukraine had roughly 196,600 active military personnel along with another 900,000 reservists, according to the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
In 2020 women made up nearly 16 percent of Ukraine’s military, but this percentage has likely been altered by the sheer number of reservists called up in the war against Russia.
It is unclear how large Ukraine’s fighting force has become with the inclusion of its male conscripts and additional female volunteers.