Ukraine: the peaceful weapon of women’s power



I am literally climbing the walls. My beloved has Covid and as a close contact I am isolating. I can’t find my usual solace in the radio or the papers; I find the reports on Putin’s genocidal war on Ukraine unbearable. I feel shame and despair at that as yet nothing effective has been done to stop millions being driven from their homes as refugees from the death and destruction rained on people and cities in the Ukraine by Putin’s Russian army.

Sorrow and the presence of Covid can turn you to other pursuits and so for distraction I am climbing the walls of my study to repaint them. As I try not to drip paint, I find myself thinking: “How can any woman bear what Putin is commanding his soldiers to do?”

How can Russian mothers, wives or sweethearts send out their men to kill and bomb the innocent people of Ukraine with whom they have a close relationship? It’s like killing your sisters and brothers. How can any woman close to Putin bear to look him in the eye if they know what is really happening?

Do his daughters Maria and Katerina or former wife Lyudmila know the devastation Putin is causing or are they blinded by Russian propaganda about the assumed ‘threat’ of the Ukraine joining NATO and Putin’s ambition to balkanise Ukraine and control the Crimea, Donbas and access to the Black Sea?

Would this be happening if Russia had a woman as president?

It is unbearable for Ukrainian women to have to flee their homes with their children, leaving behind their men to defend their country in the face of advancing tanks and indiscriminate bombing. It is unbearable to watch the tragedy unfolding and in response so many people here in Ireland are rallying to do anything they can to help.

The EU, US and UK are applying sanctions but sanctions take time to work; meantime people are being slaughtered and the Ukraine is being brought to its knees. As a neutral country the dilemma over whether to call out Putin’s bullying by threatening to strike back, (Putin can hardly be that crazy that he would opt for MAD,( mutually assured destruction,) or to deploy a no-fly zone over Ukraine are not our decisions to take.

Distractedly dripping paint, I wonder, short of mustering an international peace march into the Ukraine what kind of collective action women could take to stop this heinous war? First, it seems to me that those with connections in Russia need to let women there know the truth about the apocalypse waged on Ukraine. Confronted with unbearable reality, Russian women need to act and to do so in the most effective manner possible… call a nationwide strike.

When women stop, the world stops. When women put their boots on the ground to strike, change happens. Everyday life cannot function without women’s contribution: not only in employment but in all areas where women’s work is taken for granted. Children are not minded, meals are not cooked, no housework done and sex would be unavailable.

When thousands of women took the day off to protest in Iceland in 1975 banks, schools and shops were forced to close, men had to take their children to work. Today Iceland comes top of the world Economic Forum’s equality list. After the Ford sewing machinists in Dagenham went on strike in 1968 and clothing workers in Leeds went on strike in 1970 equal pay in the UK followed.

Women’s power to stop is an effective, peaceful weapon. If Russian women were to use it and put their boots on the ground, it could be the most effective way to end this unbearable war.

Previous Let’s celebrate Mother’s day
Next Kilkenny writer Shortall brings Orphan Disease home to Kilkenny