The Women’s Squad in Ukraine’s protests: Feminism, nationalism, and militarism on the Maidan

women_maidanAmerican Ethnologist
Volume 41, Issue 3, pages 414–426, August 2014
SARAH D. PHILLIPS

Although women and men participated in nearly equal numbers in Ukraine’s 2013–14 Maidan protests, women were excluded from some of the more dangerous activities and their contributions went largely unrecognized. I examine women’s modes of participation in and their exclusion from the Maidan and the creative responses of feminists to this exclusion, including creation of so-called Women’s Squads.

The protests generated important feminist initiatives and discussions about women’s roles in Ukraine’s past and future, which were partially couched in discourses of nationalism and militarism. Examining debates about women’s roles during and after the protests suggests that the Maidan provided Ukraine’s feminists with opportunities to articulate divergent yet reconcilable perspectives on women’s activism, social change, and national sovereignty. Their creative responses to the challenges of the protests have potentially paved the way for broadening the base of Ukrainian feminism, introducing women’s rights principles to segments of the population previously reluctant to embrace feminism.

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