Women have always played important roles in Ukrainian history. Whenever there was a conflict, women took up arms or found other ways to help their country. One of the active groups at Maidan were the Cossacks. They were mostly men but had a female Cossack group as well.
Women who wanted to help but couldn’t or didn’t want to fight helped in other ways. “We are women but we can still help, at least morally,” said Irina, who’s been working in the Cossack kitchen for three months. She is a student in Kiev and when I asked her why she came, she looked at me like it was a crazy question, “all my people are here… I live here so I’m going to stand here until the end.”
I asked her if she was scared. “Sometimes,” she said, “especially that night.” She referred to the night when Berkut stormed Maidan. But she didn’t let her fear stop her from doing what she believed was right. She found a way to help her people, like everyone else at Maidan. Politicians and their parties are often mentioned when people speak about Maidan, but they usually have a hidden (or a not so hidden) agenda, it is ordinary people like Irina who are the true heroes of Ukraine.
There is only one woman in the picture and it’s not Irina, a lot of people don’t like to be photographed at Maidan because as they keep telling me, “we are not doing this for fame.”
More photos of the Cossacks: