March 9 is International Women’s Day. It is meant to honor the gifts and contributions of women around the world that too often go unnoticed. This year, however, Ukraine is on my mind more than most other places, as it probably is for you. Despite an army eight times the size of Ukraine and advanced technological weaponry, Putin’s army has so far only been able to take over a few cities. Perhaps he underestimated the difficulty of urban warfare, especially when the population is so united against you. Most of the army is made up of men, and I have mad respect for the resistance they are putting up. But let’s just take a moment to honor the many ways Ukrainian women are contributing to this resistance.
Ukrainian Women on the Home Front and War Front
Ukrainian women are making protective gear and gathering supplies for fighters on the front lines, traveling hundreds of miles on foot to get their children to safety, giving birth in bomb shelters and refugee camps, and doing everything they can to support both the men who are fighting and the children left behind. Those are the traditional roles for women there and around the world, and it is vitally important work. Hats off to the women who are doing this under dire circumstances.
But that does not mean women cannot serve their country and families in nontraditional ways, including making and using Molotov cocktails, and even joining the fighting on the front line. One woman said while she was packing for her husband, she made the decision. If he is going to war, so is she. Another is reported to have taken down a drone with a jar of pickled tomatoes.
Russian women are also gathering in protest to pressure Putin to stop the war. One woman in Saint Petersburg was arrested while holding her baby. Other footage shows an elderly woman who survived the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War 2 not backing down from Russian police.
Trevor Noah of The Daily Show highlighted all of this in honor of both International Women’s Day and the resolve of Ukrainian and Russian women in the face of one of the worst dictators the world has ever seen.
GoFundMe with Mila Kunis
I always thought Mila Kunis was Greek. That’s how her name sounded to me. But it turns out she was born in Ukraine and immigrated to America in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. As you can imagine, the war is hitting a little closer to home for her than most Americans, and she is doing something about it. Along with husband Ashton Kutcher, she started a Gofundme campaign with a goal of raising $30 million for assistance in housing and supplies to Ukrainian refugees. They even committed to match the first $3 million in donations dollar for dollar. As of now they have raised almost $19 million. The campaign is still active, so if you want a tangible way to help, the link is below.
What Can the US and NATO Do?
This invasion never should have happened, yet it is totally in character for Putin. But I think he underestimated how far Ukrainians would go to defend their country. They are an independent, democratic, and sovereign nation, and they are determined to stay that way.
It remains to be seen how long Ukraine can hold out against Russia. The US and NATO are in a difficult position of supporting Ukraine while not wanting to start a nuclear war. It’s similar to when Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1980. We did not want to engage the Russians directly, but we provided weapons, training, humanitarian assistance, and any other support we could short of direct confrontation with Russian forces. Like the Afghans then, if you give Ukrainians weapons, they will fight. And if the resolve of the Ukrainian people, both men and women, is any indication, even if Russia takes over the capital, the resistance will not stop until Russia goes back home.
Future Woman of Ukraine Inspires People Around the World
And to end on a high note, here is a future woman singing “Let It Go.”
“Oh, I’ve heard that song a million times. I don’t want to hear it again.”
You haven’t heard it like this. A little Ukrainian girl sings it in a bomb shelter in Kyiv. No matter how many times you’ve heard it, I guarantee it will melt your heart.
Happy International Women’s Day. Again, the link to Mila Kunis’s fundraiser is below.