All Press Releases for October 31, 2017

First Documentary Released on Participation of Ukrainian Women in the War against Russian Occupation at Donbas - The Invisible Battalion

"If a woman, mother, sister, or daughter, wishes to protect our values and our territory, nobody can deny her that right." Invisible Battalion Calendar

    KYIV, UKRAINE, October 31, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The first full-length documentary about Ukrainian women participating in the war against the Russian aggression at Donbass - Invisible Battalion - was premiered on October 16. The film is a follow-up of the advocacy campaign of the same name which previously consisted of a sociological research and a photo project.

The sociological research performed by the Invisible Battalion team early in 2016 detected a number of problems: legislation allowed women to be cooks, medical instructors, seamstresses, but did not let them be snipers, mortar gunners, scouts, or take any other combat positions. Due to this fact, the women who fought in ATO were often left outside the legal framework, had no access to respective social allowance or military career, and could not receive military medals. Their participation was unnoticed and underappreciated. The advocacy campaign was a great success, for the first time in the history of independent Ukraine facilitating extension of the list of positions for privates, sergeants and officers by 63 combat positions and making them available for women. However, this was only the first victory on the way to formation of the Ukrainian army based on professional principle. Women are still not allowed to serve in the air landing troops, and the majority of military positions are unavailable to them. There is still restriction in officer positions, military education and, thus, in military career as a whole.

Creation of a documentary that tells true stories of women protecting peace and safety of Ukraine with weapons in their hands has become the next stage of work for the Invisible Battalion team. Three film directors - Iryna Tsilyk, Svitlana Lischynska and Alina Horlova - tell the stories of six servicewomen. Thus, the Invisible Battalion documentary shows war through a woman's eyes.

Maria Berlinska, film producer, explains the project purpose, "First, to document history happening right now and show how women fight. Second, break the wall for women. There can be no obsolete, Soviet prohibitions to keep women away from professional military service just because they are women, in the 21st century when women serve fully in the most powerful armies of the world, take positions from a private to a general, make strategic decisions in defense. So a documentary is a very good tool that enables us to explain these things to the society in an understandable way. And, finally, another purpose to make this film, which is no less important for me: we are losing the informational war in the world. Through this documentary, we want to show that we have no civil conflict, we have Russian occupation, the fourth year in a row. In our documentary, the world will see how our women die and become disabled, how they fight and how they beat back the Russian army. We do not need any of that "we are deeply concerned" thing; we need real support."

Oksana Ivantsiv, executive producer of the documentary, adds, "These are stories of women at war told by female film directors; a war, which is traditionally believed to be a man's business, as seen through a woman's eyes. The documentary touches upon a wide range of problems faced by women: from legislative restrictions to take military positions to the lack of rehabilitation programs and failure of the society to accept female war veterans. We hope that the documentary will make a lot of important matters relevant for the society, concerning participation of women in keeping our peace and safety, raise the servicewomen's status and also lead to respective legislative changes which will allow formation of our army based on professional criteria and not gender stereotypes."

Statistics of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine: There are about 10 thousand women, including 639 officers, in our effective military units. For participation in ATO, as of end of May 2017, combatant status has been granted to 5,287 women. During ATO, 1,857 women were awarded, including 84 persons presented with the governmental military awards of Ukraine (3 persons were awarded posthumously); 507 persons were awarded with honorary decorations of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine; 1,266 persons received honorary decorations of the Chief of the General Staff - the Chief Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Documentary trailer:

Documentary teasers:

1) Protagonist - Andriana Susak, director - Iryna Tsilyk
2) Progatonist - Oksana Yakubova, director - Alina Horlova
3) Protagonist - Yulia Matvienko, director - Svitlana Lischynska
4) Protagonist - Julia Paevska, director - Iryna Tsilyk
5) Protagonist - Olena Bilozerska, director - Svitlana Lischynska
6) Protagonist - Daria Zubenko, director - Alina Horlova

Official Facebook page:
The project is implemented by the Institute of Gender Programs NGO. Creation of the Invisible Battalion documentary has become possible thanks to the support of the American nation provided via U-Media USAID project implemented by Internews International Organizations. Contents of materials are the exclusive responsibility of the Institute of Gender Programs and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government and Internews.

Contact person: Maria Berlinska, producer of Invisible Battalion documentary
e-mail: [email protected]

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Contact Information

Oksana Ivantsiv
Institute of gender programmes
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