First bulletproof vest for women unveiled in Kiev

The first bulletproof vest for women, which is designed to accommodate the female physique and is lighter than standard men’s gear, has been unveiled in Kiev.

The Ukrainska Pravda Zhitya (Life) newspaper reported that the products were on display near the monument to Princess Olha in Kiev, after female veterans had previously outfitted the statue with bulletproof vests as part of the “She Needs Armor” campaign.

The manufacturers say the new suit is quick to put on and take off, lighter than standard men’s vests and is custom-fitted to a woman’s anatomy to distribute weight evenly.

The suit includes protection for the torso, neck, groin and legs, with parts of the suit being removable to allow for freedom of movement.

Flat armor plates would often rub against a woman’s skin, so manufacturers designed curved armor plates.

Photo: Ukrainska Pravda.Zhyttia (Life)

The design was proposed by the Ukrainian Armor Company, and the vests were produced at the request of the Ministry of Defense and the female soldiers themselves.

“Currently, about 5,000 female soldiers are in a double danger zone on the front line because there is no protection for women. This poses health risks for them and psychologically, women do not feel protected.”

“They are being forced to wear men’s bulletproof vests that pose a shabby hazard,” the company said.

The fabric itself is soft and bulletproof.

The bulletproof vests issued to men in the military are very heavy and do not fit a woman’s body type.

Flat armor plates would normally chafe against a woman’s skin, so manufacturers designed curved armor plates to fit the female anatomy.

“Men’s bulletproof vests don’t have the anatomical curves, women have the chest openings, [potential] “The damage is enormous,” said Yan Honcharov, director of Ukrainian Armor.

The suit was made lighter by using ceramic and polyethylene composite plates instead of metal plates.

According to the manufacturer, the vest’s fabric itself is made of soft bulletproof armor, and even without additional plates, the vest should provide protection against shrapnel (Category 2 protection).

However, any plate can be inserted into the plate carrier if necessary to provide the required Category 4 protection (against bullets) for the soldier at the contact line.

“The soft ballistic armor material is about 20 percent lighter than others with Category 2 protection. It’s a soft ballistic package, the armor curves, bounces back to its original shape and is washable.”

Plates can be integrated into category 4 or 6 [protection]”But it only protects vital organs (it doesn’t cover the neck, shoulders or groin). The rest of the body is only protected against shrapnel. Unfortunately, there is no way to armour the whole body,” explains Yan Honcharov.

The product will then be tested by the Ministry of Defence.

The suits are available in sizes from S to XL, and each piece can be adjusted for a snug fit thanks to the elastic and fastening system.

The suit has already passed internal testing, with paramedic Tyra and volunteer Tata Kepler taking part in the tests, the company said.

The product will now be tested by the Ministry of Defence, followed by negotiations, but it is not yet known how many female soldiers will be provided with the protective gear.

The vest costs around 50,000 hryvnias (about $1,370), making it much more expensive than a standard military bulletproof vest.

Photo: Ukrainska Pravda.Zhyttia (Life)

Before: On September 13, members of the Women Veterans Movement “dressed” Princess Olha’s statue in a bulletproof vest inscribed with the words “She needs protection” to draw the Defense Ministry’s attention to the lack of protection for women in the military. The campaign was supported by the Kyiv city government and the Ministry of Culture.

“With this public action, we are appealing to the Ministry of Defense to publicly call on all armor manufacturers to unite and provide female soldiers with reliable and anatomically appropriate gear. If this does not start immediately, we will actually lose female soldiers,” said Yulia Kirillova, co-founder of the VETERANKA movement.

The female veterans stressed that the Ukrainian defense forces need women’s bulletproof vests, comfortable winter uniforms, helmets, smaller-sized boots and other equipment.

“We openly test suits from several Ukrainian manufacturers,” the movement’s representative added. “Our feedback is positive. Purchases from abroad take a very long time to deliver. Shipment from the US took six months. That’s why we emphasize that logistics for the defense forces should not be left to volunteers. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.”

Ukraine previously officially approved a women’s military uniform.

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