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11 November, 2021
Gender cannot be a criterion for appointment as Minister of Defence

Recently, the leader of the Servant of the People faction, Davyd Arakhamia, stated that Ukrainian society is not ready for the Ministry of Defence to be headed by a woman. According to him, if it were a woman, “they would say, ‘war in the backyard, and you put a woman.’” We remind you that one of the candidates for the position of Minister of Defence was the Member of Parliament Irina Vereshchuk.

Arakhamia’s statement caused a significant resonance in society. MPs, human rights activists, the media, and civil society activists were among those who criticized the position.

We at NAKO are convinced that the criteria for selection and appointment to leadership positions in Ukraine should be professionalism, experience, and a reputation not tainted by corruption, and not gender.

And while in Ukraine there is prejudice against women in the leadership of defence agencies, in NATO member countries, women are already successfully holding such positions. For example, in France, since 2017, the Ministry of Defence has been headed by Florence Parley, who has experience in management positions in private companies. In Germany, since 2019, such an agency is headed by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who has extensive experience in politics. In Belgium, Ludivine Dedonder, a former radio host and journalist, became defence minister last year. There are other examples where women are in charge of defence agencies.

At the same time, the number of women in the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been constantly growing since the beginning of the war. Today, 56,000 women work in the Ukrainian army, of which 31,000 are servicemembers.

As 15% of the personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are women, NAKO insists that it is necessary not only to increase the representation of women in the army but also women’s access to decision-making. In particular, this is provided by the UN Security Council resolution “Women, Peace, Security”, signed by Ukraine.

NAKO calls on MPs of Ukraine and representatives of other authorities to promote equality of women and men in the army not only on paper but also in practice.