17 May 2016 – Ukraine’s Parliament launched the photo exhibition “Mothers in the front line and in the rear” to honor women serving in the armed forces as well as the mothers of combatants.

17 May 2016 – Ukraine’s Parliament launched the photo exhibition “Mothers in the front line and in the rear” to honor women serving in the armed forces as well as the mothers of combatants.

This exhibition is a part of the advocacy campaign for the rights of women serving in the Armed Forces. We advocate for lifting restrictions for women's carrier and occupational discrimination against women in Ukraine” – said Maria Ionova, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine.

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Photo: Maria Ionova, Member of Parliament and co-chair of the Parliamentary Caucus for Equal Opportunities, at the press briefing in Verhovnaya Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine

Though the representation of women in the Armed Forces of Ukraine still remains low the numbers of women willing to join the armed forces of Ukraine continues to grow. Women make 17,000 women in the armed forces, of whom nearly 2,000 are officers, and 1,500 have received an official status of participants of combat operations, predominantly in the anti-terrorist operation in the east of the country. Women in Ukraine’s military face discrimination throughout their career, their needs largely ignored by military and civilian superiors. With the increasing numbers of women Ukraine’s military also struggles to accommodate the differentiated needs of women and protect the rights of women having children. Women have to challenge the gender stereotypes and their traditional roles. Female combatants do not receive support in socioeconomic reintegration, as they are often stigmatized for their “counter-cultural” behavior due to entrenched gender stereotypes. Similarly, the provision of vital services that address emotional trauma and reproductive health are largely not available for women with children.

“I serve in the army not to get the awards, but to make my contribution to defending my country. It is very important for us, the women in armed forces, that our role and contribution are acknowledged and recognized” said Tatiana Lepehova, speaking on behalf of female soldiers.

It is globally recognized that women’s participation can increase military operational effectiveness as well as mission success. In 15 years following the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, many countries, have successfully established policy frameworks and gender enablers to improve the integration of a gender perspective in military operations and have increased the number of women serving in their armed forces and military providing requires support to women having children.

Backed by the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers in implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the Ukraine security and defense reform represents an important entry point for introduction of gender-responsive legal and policy measures that address women’s different security experiences and priorities. At the same time, translating the policies and laws into actual changes in the lives of women in armed forces and their families is a continuous process which requires a collective effort of multiple stakeholders in the parliament, government and civil society”, said Anastasia Divinskaya, UN Women Gender Advisor in Ukraine.

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Photo: Anastasia Divinskaya, UN Women Gender Advisor, at the press-briefing in Verhovnaya Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine

The exhibition “Mothers in the front line and in the rear” also tells about mothers of combatants and is a recognition of the significant contribution they make in anti-terrorist operation, protection of the rights of the servicemen as well as addressing the array of issues related to military service, demobilization and reintegration.

The exhibition was organized by the Parliamentary Inter-Faction Union for Equal Opportunities in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the Ukrainian Women’s Fund and the volunteers photo-project “If not the war…”