Shift in roles: how the war has affected the family life of Ukrainian women

October 2023
Special survey for the University of East Anglia

The war has significantly changed the role of Ukrainian women in families. The difficult times we are going through now affect the financial, psycho-emotional state and relationships with a close circle of people. Gradus Research conducted a survey for the University of East Anglia among three target groups — internally displaced women, wives of military personnel, and women who have returned from their temporary migration abroad — to find out how the war has affected their family life.

Increased responsibilities: finances, child care, planning

The war has undoubtedly changed and expanded the responsibilities of all women without exception and increased the burden on them. The survey results show that among the three groups of respondents, the lives of military wives have changed the most. 54% of them declared an increase in financial responsibilities, 62% felt more responsible for raising children, and 63% began to plan family life more actively.


At the same time, for the women surveyed who returned from abroad, the changes were less noticeable: 19% of them began to make more decisions on financial matters, 34% have stepped up their role in raising children, and 38% have begun to plan their family life more.


Employment and financial situation: the impact of the war

With regard to changes in financial situation, all target groups that participated in the survey felt the negative impact of the war. Most of all, women who migrated abroad and have already returned and women who were forced to move within Ukraine. Among the former, the share of those whose family income is low or below average has tripled (from 17% to 50%), and among the latter, it has doubled (from 37% to 70%).


It is worth noting that only 36% of the surveyed female IDPs had their main housing not destroyed or damaged. At the same time, among the wives of military personnel and women who returned from abroad, this figure is 81% and 88%, respectively.

The level of employment since the beginning of the full-scale invasion has slightly decreased in all survey groups, which is likely to be one of the factors contributing to the deterioration of the financial situation of families.


Changing authority: changes in raising children

According to the survey, the influence of authority in child-rearing has changed the most among the interviewed IDP women and wives of military personnel.


Internally displaced women are more likely than others to observe a decrease in the authority of grandparents in raising their children. In such families, the influence of mothers changes significantly instead: 40% declare an increase in their authority in raising children under 12, and 58% — with children over 13. The role of fathers in IDP families mostly remains the same as at the beginning of the full-scale war: 36% and 42% of respondents stated it for children under 12 and over 13, respectively.


Unlike IDP women, in the families of military wives, the authority of both parents have increased. 48% of the women surveyed indicate an increase in the influence of the father in raising children under 12, and 42% — in raising children over 13. Regarding the authority of the mother, 53% and 44% of respondents indicated an increase in it for children under 12 and 13 years old, respectively.

Satisfaction with personal life in times of war

Despite the psychological challenges, high levels of stress, relocations, and fears that Ukrainians have faced, the survey results indicate a relatively high level of satisfaction with marriage or partnership relationships and family life among all categories of respondents.


Women who returned from abroad turned out to be the happiest group in this context: 87% of them feel satisfied with their relationships. For internally displaced women, this figure reaches 72%, and for wives of military personnel — 81%.

"Despite the obvious difficulties and challenges that the war poses to Ukrainian women and their families, more than half of the respondents consider this period of 2022-2023 to be the time that made Ukrainian families become closer and more supportive of each other. The respondents also state that during the war they felt that their partners made a great contribution to family relationships, and even the physical separation of families did not stand in the way," says Evgeniya Bliznyuk, sociologist, CEO & Founder of Gradus Research.


The full survey report is available for download upon request in the form below.

The survey was conducted by Gradus Research company using a self-completion questionnaire in a mobile application. The target group of the survey was women who have children under the age of 18 and at the time of the survey reside in Ukraine, and before the war lived together with their child(ren) and partner (regardless of whether it was a formal or informal marriage). The survey identified three target audiences: TA1: Women who are internally displaced persons (IDPs) and live with their families (with a husband/without a husband/with other members of a polynuclear family); CA2: Women who have not traveled abroad (both IDPs and non-IDPs) and whose husbands served or are serving in 2022-2023; CA3: Women who have traveled abroad and returned to Ukraine. A total of 356 effective interviews were conducted, of which 100 were related to CA1, 156 to CA2, and 100 to CA3. The survey period lasted from August 18 to August 31, 2023.

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