Ukrainian Female Soldiers March In High Heels
The Ukrainian defense ministry has reconsidered its decision after suffering heavy criticism over plans to make female soldiers march in high heels at a parade next month.
The ministry on Thursday published photos on Facebook which showed women from the Military Institute at the Taras Shevchenko National University in the country’s capital, Kyiv, marching in the shoes, along with camouflage pants, shirts and hats.
The cadets have been practicing twice daily, for an average of four hours a day, the ministry said in a post alongside the pictures. The Aug. 24 parade in Kyiv will mark the 30th anniversary of the country’s independence.
Ivanna Medvid, a cadet at the Military Institute of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev, has been training for more than a month. “Today, for the first time, training takes place in high-heeled shoes,” she told Army Inform. “It’s a little harder than in boots, but we try.”
The plan along with the pictures prompted a swift backlash on social media as critics, including female Ukrainian legislators, accused the military of sexism.
“It’s difficult to imagine a more idiotic, harmful idea. Stepping in the heat on our roads, the military risks being injured, damaging the shit, ligaments and just rubbing their feet. Why? To bring someone’s stereotypical idea of a woman’s only role as a beautiful doll?” opposition lawmaker Inna Sovsun said in a Facebook post.
“The purpose of any military parade is to demonstrate the military ability of the army. There should be no room for stereotypes and sexism,” said a joint statement from three cabinet members, including Minister of Veterans Affairs Yulia Laputina, the Associated Press reported.
Olena Kondratyuk, the deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, in a Facebook post called for a public apology to the women who have been “humiliated” by the decision. Citing the country’s constitution which guarantees equality between men and women, she also called for Defense Minister Andriy Taran to conduct an investigation.
“The story of a parade in heels is a real disgrace,” commentator Vitaly Portnikov said on Facebook, arguing that some officials had a “medieval” mindset.
Following the criticism, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that it will issue “new, improved footwear” for female soldiers.
Defense minister Taran said he has ordered his deputies to look into new footwear, which will be “ergonomic and made in the shortest possible time.”
However, it is not clear exactly when the new footwear will be available.
More than 31,000 women now serve in the country’s armed forces, including more than 4,000 who are officers.