Deminer Tetiana Shpak crouched down in a once tranquil poppy-strewn field in southern Ukraine, now littered with Russian mines.

Just a few years ago this scene would have been impossible — until 2018 women were banned from becoming deminers, a profession long considered too dangerous for them.

"I did not think that my path would lead here," said the 51-year-old former maths teacher whose face was covered with a thick protective mask.