Wars Are Not Won Without Women — How Ukrainian Women Are Carrying The Burden Of The Russian Invasion

The true heroes of International Women's Day.

Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Slovakia Yanosh Nemesh / Shutterstock

General George S. Paton famously said, “Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.”

As with all snappy, one-line quotes, it sounds good, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Men are thought of as filling the role of warriors in society and the ones who decide the outcome of wars, but the impact of women in warfare cannot be ignored.


Women in Ukraine — and throughout history — have fought and won many wars.

Even before the advent of modern conflict and more gender diversity in national armies, women were expected to contribute to war, just as men were.

RELATED: 11-Year-Old Ukrainian Boy Travels 600 Miles To Slovakia Alone With Relative’s Phone Number Written On His Hand

Whether it was making and carrying bundles of arrows up to battlements or tending to wounded, even in a time when war was dominated by raw physical strength, women were still a part of warfare and paid a high price right alongside men for defeat.


As time has gone on the role of women in warfare has only expanded.

Women can be seen taking up arms all across the world.

Especially in defensive conflicts, when everyone is expected to contribute, women often take up arms right alongside male combatants. Ukrainian women are fighting for their country right now against an unjustified Russian invasion.

Women have fought alongside men throughout history.

Obviously, physical strength is still a key component to have in a soldier, but that hasn’t stopped women war heroes throughout history.


One such hero was Marie-Madeleine Fourcade who led an element of the French resistance during the Second World War.

Mary-Madeleine showed how much more effective a person can be by using their eyes and ears rather than a gun. Women just like Fourcade took massive risks behind enemy lines over the course of WWII.

Women continue to serve in warfare in civilian roles.

Even as civilians, women must take huge risks while their country is at war. Whether they are fleeing their country and becoming refugees or staying to help by performing medical duties or by protesting and making weapons, women are often forced to face the enemy vulnerable and unarmed.

RELATED: Video Shows Ukrainian Mother Embracing A Stranger Who Brought Her Children Across The Border To Safety


Vacating their homes and taking children away from battlegrounds is as essential to the war effort as staying behind to fight.

While men often do the bulk of the fighting in warfare, war affects everyone. Whether protecting children, enduring attacks, saving lives, or standing and fighting right alongside their male counterparts, women serve a critical role in warfare that will forever be worth remembering.


Ukrainian women are facing unimaginable struggles in the face of the Russian invasion and many need our help.

UN Women has established a fund to address the needs of Ukrainian women and girls by working closely with women’s civil society organizations. Please donate what you can here.

RELATED: How Ukrainian Civilians Are Altering Road Signs & Making Homemade Weapons To Resist Russia’s Invasion

Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.