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  • Writer's pictureMariah Nimmons

How Women War

A NOTE: Our Russia-Ukraine Resources are updated weekly - if you're accessing the page three or more weeks past the below date, pieces mentioned in this post may have been removed to make room for up-to-date resources.

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Updated Resources - March 13, 2024

On the anniversary of invincibility, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented state awards, conferred honorary titles upon military personnel and civilians, and handed over battle flags to military units of the Armed Forces and assault brigades of the Offensive Guard. The ceremony took place on St. Sophia’s Square in Kyiv. (President Of Ukraine from Україна, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)



Artist and political activist Yelena Osipova at a demonstration against war of Russia with Ukraine in Saint Petersburg. Osipova's sign reads: "Peace in Ukraine - 1 Mar 2014" (Ain92, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


In addition to our weekly resource update, today we also offer an updated collection of pieces on the Israeli-Hamas war.

Last Friday, nations and peoples around the globe observed International Women’s Day (though notably, some did not). Womanhood and gender dynamics are nuanced and complex the world over, and the former Soviet states are no exception. From inception, Track Two has held that female peacebuilders and experts bring a unique and vital perspective to the arena of diplomacy. In today’s collection, we examine the role of women in this conflict, as combatants, activists, and civilians in both Russia and Ukraine.

We begin at the intersection of gender dynamics, power, and women’s rights. At a time when ‘traditional’ values have seen a revival within Russia, The Moscow Times publishes Russian officials’ reactions to International Women’s Day. The publication also offers a podcast examining women’s rights in wartime Russia. Novaya Gazeta Europe explores effects of masculine ideals on Russian men, society, and warfare. The publication goes on to profile Yekaterina Mizulina, the head of The Safe Internet League, an organization purportedly formed to advocate for children’s safety online but in practice exercises a great deal of influence over Russia’s censorship apparatus. Towards the other end of the political spectrum, The Conversation provides context as Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, begins to take a more active role in the Russian opposition movement.

In Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reveals how Ukrainian women have stepped forward to keep their nation’s mines in operation during war, confronting fear and prejudice along the way. The Kyiv Independent introduces three female tech leaders whose work places them in one of the nation’s largest outsourcing markets and outlines the war’s impact on employment opportunities for women.

Next, we probe reproductive health and motherhood. Russia.Post and The Insider examine recent efforts in Russia to restrict access to abortion against the backdrop of the nation's demographic concerns and the war in Ukraine. The Moscow Times publishes Putin’s remarks on Women’s Day which lauded motherhood as women’s ‘greatest gift’ and ‘purpose’. Across the border, Al Jazeera reports on how hard-to-navigate foreign healthcare systems have driven some pregnant Ukrainian refugees to return home to give birth. The European Commission and Euronews reveal the pivotal role that access to childcare plays in refugee integration in their host countries. The war's impact on sex workers’ risk of violence and disease is explored by The Kyiv Independent.

We further learn how war impacts traditional gender roles through an episode of The Telegraph’s Ukraine: The Latest podcast discussing the evolving role of women in Ukraine’s armed forces. Al Jazeera continues in this vein, revealing that - in addition to fighting against Russia - Ukraine’s female soldiers must contend with sexism and ill-suited protective gear. In Russia, Meduza reports that the Russian Defense Ministry is allegedly recruiting female inmates to serve as snipers in the war.

Finally, different perspectives on womanhood and resistance within Russia are presented in The Conversation and Foreign Policy. The former publication discusses the growing resistance of soldiers’ wives and mothers who, actively demand their loved ones return from battle. The latter explores the complexities of the female experience, resistance, and repression in present day Russia.

In the overview, we take stock of ten years of Crimean occupation and an overview, Why Ukraine Matters. In videos a Russian-language channel on YouTube interviews Russians, giving insight on their perspectives and experiences during wartime (translatable via YouTube captions and DeepL, for title information). Find further videos on the role of women in Ukraine's fight for democracy, the director of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute discusses Ukrainian, Russian, and Soviet history, Ukrainian politics, and a video exploring human rights. In the arts a short film about a Ukrainian TikTok influencer who shares her life as a refugee with the world, and a new ballet in response to the war in Ukraine from Alexei Ratmansky and Tiler Peck premieres.

Find these stories - and more, including an important Foreign Policy piece on information warfare - in today's Russia-Ukraine resource update. Visit our blog for new insights and analysis on the Israel-Hamas War, along with ongoing coverage as Russians lay Alexei Navalny to rest.




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