“War is not a woman’s business”? From the very beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, women have confidently put aside gender stereotypes and proved that they make an equal contribution to the victory of Ukraine. Starting from 2014 and continuing to our days, brave Ukrainian women resist Russian aggression: in the ranks of the Armed Forces, volunteering, education, culture, diplomacy, and activism. This story is about the female faces of the Ukrainian resistance.
Victoria Vyunyk from Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia region, is currently serving in the 40th separate artillery brigade named after Grand Duke Vytautas. She is the commander of the communications department, a sergeant. Victoria advises other women and girls who are going to join the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to realize that this is a serious step in life and one must be ready for many challenges.
“It may sound harsh and cruel, but it’s reality: you can be killed, you can be captured, you won’t see your family and friends because, in the best case, you will have vacation once a year. But, based on your own example, no matter who you are or what you are, man or woman, when you wear military uniform for the first time, then you will never want to part with it.”
From the personal experience of seven years of service, Victoria knows what resistance is.
Another of our heroines, also from Melitopol, Yelizaveta Bonchuzhna devoted her resistance to the occupation to volunteering. She supported people online with information, helped to find vital medicines, and also helped physically at the humanitarian headquarters – sorting things that people brought themselves, because there was no humanitarian aid.
Our next interlocutor is Iryna Nurullina, an educator from Kherson. She taught children even despite the occupation and challenges of war. She mentions:
“The first time, of course, when you realize that there is something flying and banging, you hear it all, but you don’t fully understand how the children perceive it. It happened that you were sitting in the room, doing something with them, for example, you were sculpting some kind of appliqué, and you heard that someone started to hiss, and then you started to raise your voice, to say something louder. It is very important to control yourself, firstly, your reactions and faces, so that children feel that this is a safe space for them today.”