Ukrainian Women Refugees' Financial Health and Use of Financial Services in Moldova and Romania

Online - hosted via Zoom
Monday 23 January 2023 (14:00-15:00)

Helen Harris

A black piggy bank with a hand dropping a coin into it

Migrants and refugees frequently encounter barriers to accessing and using formal financial services due to a multitude of reasons such as a lack of documentation, permanent addresses, and other requirements under Know Your Customer banking regulations.

Women migrants and refugees may experience additional difficulties due to gender discrimination in banking policies and personal security risks related to carrying large sums of cash.  Our research examines the financial lives of Ukrainian women refugees in Moldova and Romania. The research specifically focuses on their access to and use of formal financial services and probes women’s financial needs during their journeys. Our analysis synthesizes data from 800 in-person surveys and in-depth interviews conducted in May and June 2022. The following findings emerge from the analysis. First, despite early media reports that Ukrainian refugees experienced difficulties accessing their finances, the data indicates that after the European Banking Authority directive women refugees who tried to open a bank account in a receiving country were able to do so. Second, although women report little to no preparation time for leaving, many left with identification documentation, some cash, and their Ukrainian ATM cards. Results show that Ukrainian women refugees rely heavily on cash and their ATM cards, while also using mobile money services to send and receive money from family and friends. Third, even with account access, most Ukrainian women refugees experience financial stress and precarious financial health for themselves and dependents traveling with them. These findings underscore the importance of the international community’s care for Ukrainian refugees’ financial health and supporting interventions to help them reach their financial goals.


Dr Megan Dwyer Baumann is the Global Qualitative Research Lead at Women’s World Banking. She holds MS and PhD degrees in Geography from Penn State, and previously worked as a legal professional with forcibly displaced persons. Her research expertise includes how low-income households and communities respond to social, political, and environmental stresses. She’s trained in feminist methodologies and intersectional approaches to research.