A recent order of the Defense Ministry requiring women of certain professions to register for possible military service caused a stir in Ukraine.
The order, which came into effect on Dec. 17, lists 100 professions. All Ukrainian women who are from 18 to 60-years-old and employed in these professions must get registered with their local conscription office before the end of 2022.
Although some took the order to mean that women will be required to fight, it’s not the case.
There is no mandatory conscription for women in Ukraine. Even in case of a full-blown Russian invasion, the registered women can only be offered to join the military, not forced.
However, in case of a war they can be required to participate in civil defense efforts, possibly using their professional skills. It doesn’t mean they will be fighting.
The list of professions listed by the Defense Ministry is so broad that the new demand covers a large portion of the female population. It includes doctors, bank employees, journalists, and even restaurant staff. The full list is here.
Still, the news became a hot topic of discussion on social media as there was no clear understanding of what the order meant in practice.
Natalia Voronkova, an adviser to the minister of defense, came on the air at Hromadske Radio station to alleviate some of the confusion.
First of all, the effect of this law on the daily lives of Ukrainian women will largely depend on whether Russia further invades Ukraine.
In peacetime, the registered women will be largely unaffected, potentially having to attend training or meetings, which are rare. However, in the event that the worst case scenario does occur, the women will be mobilized to provide civil wartime assistance and fill roles as the war effort requires.
The new rules require women to submit a variety of documents to their local enlistment office. These include a passport, tax number, marriage certificate, children's birth certificate(s), university diploma and a confirmation of employment. According to Voronkova, the Defense Ministry is planning to determine the method of registration by the end of 2021, and it is possible that it will take place online.
Women will also need to go through a health checkup as part of the registration.
The enlistment offices will decide on a case-by-case basis which individuals will be fit for civil wartime assistance, based on their health and personal circumstances. It is extremely unlikely that a pregnant woman or a woman that is the primary caregiver of a young child will be drafted for civil defense, yet they still must register.
Women that fit the employment and age requirements must register by the end of 2022. Failing to do so will result in a fine between $180-$300 or up to one year of community service. The punishment for avoiding training is more severe with a fine of $300-$435 and up to two years of community service.
All places of work are required by law to keep records of employed civil defense conscripts. The employer of a woman conscripted for civil defense must keep her position for her until she returns – including if she’s injured or declared missing. She will be paid a salary, covered by the state.
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