Ukrainian female soldiers say they struggle with men’s baggy uniforms and equipment.
The military is now testing clothing specifically for female soldiers, officials and reports said.
But for now, soldiers must rely on volunteers to get uniforms that fit, stand-to-pee tubes, and boots.
Ukraine’s military is rushing to get dedicated uniforms for its female soldiers after complaints of poor sizing of men’s clothing holding them back on the battlefield.
Ukraine’s defense minister said earlier this month that Ukraine’s military is testing types of body armor and helmets specifically for women, and that it will order models if and when it finds them suitable, Insider’s Erin Snodgrass previously reported.
The military is also testing a women’s uniform, designed by volunteer group Arm Women Now, that’s made up of jackets, adjustable waistband trousers, and sports bras, according to Agence France-Presse.
The design is being tested for rollout across the armed forces, and could be provided as standard, the report said.
About 60,000 Ukrainian women now serving in the country’s military, 5,000 of them in combat units, Yevheniia Kravchuk, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, told CNN.
But some have said that improper equipment not designed for women’s bodies has been a hindrance in the fighting.
Alina, a Ukrainian soldier, told The Daily Beast that women in the armed forces often have to “stumble in men’s shoes that are too big” or run in “huge pants” that slow them down.
“But the hardest thing is to run in the army’s standard, 30-pound-bulletproof vest—which just never fits snugly to the body with boobs like mine,” she said.
Alina added: “If I take the army armor off and get wounded or get killed, there would be no compensation paid to me or my family. Our lives, our security often depend on what we wear on our body and our feet, how healthy we are.”
Her sister, Julia, also serving in the military, told The Beast that women struggle without equipment to help them go to the bathroom while on the battlefield.
“Try to go to the toilet in the woods at 4 degrees Fahrenheit… All of us got cystitis or inflammation of the ovaries and back pain,” she said, adding: “After a year of the war we have a bouquet of all sorts of health issues.”
The women’s complaints line up with those previously voiced by female Ukrainian soldiers.
Olga Ushakova told CBS News in March that women in the military have to wear male uniforms, underwear and shoes.
Anastasia Mohina told the outlet that she spent the first months of the war in cold conditions with just sneakers and an oversized men’s uniform, while the men with her had boots to wear.
Another soldier, Alina Pyrenko, told Agence France-Presse that she wasn’t given any uniform for her first two months of fighting, and when she was given a uniform it was men’s clothing that had to be altered.
“The men’s trousers would fall down,” she said.
For now, women in Ukraine’s armed forces rely on volunteer groups to get dedicated equipment.
This includes Arm Women Now as well as the “Zemliachky” volunteer group, which is giving female soldiers boots, uniforms, thermal underwear, feminine hygiene products, stand-to-pee tubes, and bulletproof plates that can fit under their flak jackets, according to the Associated Press.
The group had sent out free equipment to more than 5,000 female soldiers as of March, CBS News reported.
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