Ukraine’s coal mines turn to women to solve wartime staff shortages – by Max Hunder (Reuters – November 22, 2023)

PAVLOHRAD, Ukraine, Nov 22 (Reuters) – After more than a thousand of its workers went to fight Russia’s invasion, a coal mining enterprise in eastern Ukraine suffered a huge staff shortage. Its answer was to allow women to work underground for the first time in its history.

Over a hundred took up the offer. “I took this job because the war started and there were no other jobs,” 22-year-old Krystyna said candidly. For five months, she has worked as a technician 470 metres below ground, servicing the small electric trains which haul workers more than four kilometres from the lift shaft where they descend to the seams of coal.

The mine, a vast tower with shafts running more than 600 metres under the surface, juts out against the flat landscape and the grey November weather. Reuters was asked by the mine’s management not to name it or give the surnames of those interviewed.

Krystyna only resolved to take the job after overcoming her fear of leaving her four-year-old son, Denys, at home with her mother. Her hometown of Pavlohrad is 100 km (62 miles) from the front, but is often hit by Russian missiles.

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