When survival depends upon a correct fitting uniform

https://www.flickr.com/photos/spoilt_exile/ Military honor in aid of the Independence Day of Ukraine
October 10, 2023

When survival depends upon a correct fitting uniform

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 there were around 35,000 women in the country’s armed forces, many of them in combat roles.  The past eighteen months have seen the number of women in combat roles almost double to 60,000, now making up 20% of Ukraine’s total force deployed against the Russians.  

But until recently they had to put up with wearing uniforms designed to fit men.  Not only were these uncomfortable, they also increased women’s risk of losing their lives as they were hampered by ill-fitting uniforms, often bulky with rolled up sleeves and trousers held up with string.

Iryna Nykorak, MP and a member of Kviv’s city council, decided the country’s women fighters deserved better.  “This isn’t about fashion,” she said.  “It’s about survival.”  

Nykorak set about designing and trialling uniforms made to fit women using the same heavy duty materials.  She set up an organisation, Arm Women Now, to make the uniforms, often sewn by volunteers.  Over 5000 uniforms have been distributed to women on the frontline so far, and many more are in the making.  

Ukrainian women are not alone in facing this struggle to get well-fitting uniforms.  When the UK was asked by Ukraine for help to get uniforms for female soldiers, the message from the MOD was that they could only supply uniforms which were designed for men but were available in smaller sizes.

Similarly, in the US, it is only in the past decade that women’s uniforms and underwear has been designed to fit and be comfortable in combat roles. 

For the full interview with Iryna Nykorak please see: One woman’s mission to dress Ukraine’s female fighters (thetimes.co.uk)

In the US:  How women's military uniforms are evolving (19thnews.org) (Sept 2022)

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