The first body armour designed for women, which takes the shape of the female body into account and weighs less than a standard men's armoured suit, has been shown in Kyiv.
Ukrainska Pravda.Zhyttia (Life) reports that the product was showcased near the monument to Princess Olha in Kyiv. Female veterans had put a bulletproof vest on the statue the day before as part of the She Needs Armour campaign.
According to the manufacturers, the new bulletproof suit is quicker to take off, weighs less than a standard men's vest, is tailored to the female anatomy, and has an evenly distributed weight.
The bulletproof suit includes protection for the torso, neck, groin and legs. Parts of the suit can be detached to allow for mobility.
The design was presented by the manufacturer Ukrainian Armour. The bulletproof suit was created at the request of the Ministry of Defence and the servicewomen themselves.
"Currently, about 5,000 female servicewomen are in a double-risk zone at the front because they do not have protection for women. This poses a health risk to them, and psychologically, women do not feel protected.
They are forced to wear men's bulletproof vests that do not fit snugly," the company says.
The men's bulletproof vests that are issued to soldiers in the army are very heavy and not adapted to the female body shape.
A flat armour plate usually chafes against a woman's skin, so manufacturers have designed a curved plate tailored to the female body.
"There is no anatomical curve in a man's bulletproof vest, so women have a chest opening, a large area of [potential] damage," says Yan Honcharov, director of Ukrainian Armour.
The suit was also made lighter by using composite ceramic-polyethylene plates rather than metal ones
The fabric of the vest itself is armoured with soft ballistic protection, the manufacturers say. They stated that even without an additional plate, the vest should offer protection against shell fragments (category 2 protection).
However, any plate can be inserted into a plate carrier if it is necessary to provide the category 4 protection (against bullets) that is required by soldiers at the line of contact.
"The material that is armoured with soft ballistic protection is about 20% lighter than anything else that exists with category 2 protection. This is a soft ballistic package, the armour is curved, recovers its shape, and is washable.
A plate can be integrated for category 4 or 6 [protection]. But it will only protect the vital organs (without covering the neck, shoulders and groin – ed.). Everything else will only be armoured against fragments. Unfortunately, there is no way of armouring the whole body," Yan Honcharov explains.
The suit is available in sizes S to XL. Each product can be made to fit more snugly with elastic and a fastening system.
Now the product will be tested by the Ministry of Defence, after which negotiations will take place. It is not yet known how many servicewomen will be provided with this protection.
The suit costs about UAH 50,000 (roughly US$1,370), which is much more expensive than standard army bulletproof vests.
Previously: On 13 September, members of the Women's Veterans Movement "dressed" the statue of Princess Olha in a bulletproof vest inscribed with the words "She Needs Armour" to draw the Defence Ministry’s attention to the lack of protection for women in the military. The campaign was supported by the Kyiv City State Administration and the Ministry of Culture.
"With this public action, we are appealing to the Ministry of Defence to publicly appeal to all armour manufacturers to unite and provide women soldiers with reliable, anatomically appropriate accoutrements. Unless we start doing this immediately, we will actually lose our servicewomen," said Yuliia Kirillova, co-founder of the VETERANKA movement.
The female veterans emphasised that Ukraine's defenders need women's bulletproof vests, comfortable winter uniforms, helmets, small-sized boots and other accoutrements.
"We have publicly stated that we have tested suits from several Ukrainian manufacturers," the movement's representatives add. "Our feedback is positive. Purchases from abroad have critically long delivery times - one of our shipments from America took six months. That is why we emphasise that logistics for defenders should not be up to volunteers - it’s the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine."
Earlier, Ukraine officially approved military uniforms for women.