Defense ministry footage showing female soldiers practicing the parade with heels provokes a torrent of criticism.
Ukrainian authorities have been attacked after official images showed women soldiers practicing next month’s military parade with heels.
Ukraine is preparing to organize the parade to mark 30 years of independence after the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the defense ministry on Thursday released photographs of women soldiers dressed in fatigue marching in black mid-heeled bombs.
“Today, for the first time, they are training with heels,” cadet Ivanna Medvid told Defense Ministry news site ArmiaInform.
“It’s a little harder than in army boots, but we’re trying,” Medvid said.
The choice of footwear sparked a torrent of criticism on social media and in parliament, and led to allegations that women soldiers had been sexualized.
“The story of a heeled parade is a real disgrace,” commentator Vitaly Portnikov said on Facebook, arguing that some Ukrainian officials had a “medieval” mentality.
“Sexism and misogyny”
Another commentator, Maria Shapranova, accused the defense ministry of “sexism and misogyny.”
“High heels are a mockery of women imposed by the beauty industry,” she said.
Several Ukrainian lawmakers close to former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appeared in parliament wearing shoes and encouraged the Defense Minister to wear heels to the parade.
“It’s hard to imagine a more idiotic and harmful idea,” said Inna Sovsun, a member of the Golos party, pointing out the health risks.
He also said that Ukrainian women soldiers, like men, risked their lives and “do not deserve to be mocked.”
Ukraine has been fighting Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country, in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.
Olena Kondratyuk, vice president of the legislature, said authorities should publicly apologize for “humiliating” women and conducting an investigation.
Kondratyuk said more than 13,500 women had fought in the current conflict.
The current conflict
More than 31,000 women serve in the Ukrainian armed forces, including more than 4,000 of whom are officers.
Defense Minister Andriy Taran met with a group of cadet women and listened to their problems with footwear and promised them a new model, the defense ministry said on Saturday.
“The new improved footwear should be better, more ergonomic and manufactured in the shortest possible time,” the minister said.
The ministry’s statement did not include apologies, but expressed regret for the use of the footwear problem “by some political forces for a banal policy and self-publicity.”