Maria Adveeva wears two months under the bombs. It is the time that adds up to the war in his city and in the Ukraine. From the town where she was born, Kharkov, this researcher specialized in Communication has not wanted to leave. Upside down. With the outbreak of the conflict, Adveeva made the decision to go out every day and keep a diary to document the atrocities of the confrontation. He is also looking for signs of war crimes and preserving evidence that demonstrates the devastation his country is suffering.

Adveeva explains it without diplomacy and without the nuances that only times of peace allow. “I understand that now many people are in danger of life and mine is just a grain of sand,” he says. “My goal is for the international community to listen to us, to get more help for Ukraine, also more weapons. We have to win the war,” she details.

Many Ukrainian women have made the difficult decision to leave the country since the beginning of the conflict started in Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin. They are today the vast majority -along with children and the elderly- of the more than 5 million displaced accounted for by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which is due to the fact that the Ukrainian government prohibits men of working age from leaving the country.

However, many women they have also stayed in the country, even in the eastern areas most affected by the armed conflict. They have done so precisely to avoid leaving their husbands, fathers, children or grandchildren behind, or because, after a lifetime of effort, they refuse to leave their homes. Like Tatiana, a 60-year-old woman from Zaporizhia who turns the paradigm. “This war is terrible, but I have already lived hell with the death of my daughter who got cancer and died in three months,” he explains.

Paradoxically, she is not the only one who thinks this way. Svitlana also says that, that she doesn’t want to leave her city either and that he has given himself to his orthodox faith, the religion of the majority in Ukraine. “I have faith that God will protect us that no missile will fall on our land, that the Virgin of Pokrov has covered us with her mantle and we will be safe“, says this teacher in a school in Zaporizhia, a city located a few kilometers from the Moscow troops.

too high a price

The decision, in areas occupied by Russian forces, has come at a very high price for some. Dozens of women, some very young, have been transformed into spoils of war. This was revealed a few weeks ago with the withdrawal of Russian troops from the outskirts of kyiv. Dozens of bodies of murdered women have been found there -some in unspeakable ways-, with signs of obvious signs of sexual violence. A situation that is still under investigation by Ukrainian and international prosecutors.

In fact, according to figures from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, more than 700 female civilians (out of a total of 2,500 victims) They have lost their lives to shelling or artillery fire since the start of the war in February. However, the number is underestimate for in the areas occupied by Russian forces – for example, in Mariupol, Izium, or Lugansk – investigators do not have full access to information.

The war claimed the lives, for example, of the Sergeant Olena Kushmir, a doctor symbol of the Ukrainian resistance who was helping soldiers, after enlisting as a volunteer, along with other women, in an attempt to defend Mariupol, the martyred port city in southern Ukraine for a week under Russian control. The death of Dr. Kushmir shocked Ukraine, also for his crude words to the world at the beginning of the war. “Don’t feel sorry for me, I am a doctor, a fighter and a Ukrainian, I do my duty,” she had said.

Like her, other Ukrainian women have opted for leave their previous lives and be on the front line. Not only as militia, police or soldiers -which there are also, although they are a minority compared to the larger numbers of men-, but also as volunteers for groups with logistics tasks and distribution of food and medicines. A task that is often not easy in times when humanitarian aid also has to deal with bureaucracy of war and with officials not always free from suspicion of corruption. “I have 24 hours and I want to help everyone I can,” Lia, a member of the territorial defense forces, a group of armed civilians who cooperate with the Ukrainian government in rearguard tasks, responded to this journalist days ago.

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Similarly, in the war in Ukraine, there have also been some women who have stood out because of their affiliation or their political positions, such as Iryna Vereshchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of the Russian-occupied territories. A law graduate and a highly critical voice of Putin since before the war, Vereshchuk appears regularly on Ukrainian television to give the war report of the day and is considered one of the main strategists of the Ukrainian government.

The Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova, is another case. His name has become popular as the country has begun to claim that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine, a task that involves a long judicial investigation whose outcome is still unclear. Even so, as is often the case, women have also been largely absent from the conflict. An example are the negotiating groups for the peace process between Ukraine and Russiain which the female presence is conspicuous by its scarcity.


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