Western Union Pays Tribute: Women Move US$ 291B Globally to Loved Ones; Half of $582 Billion in Global Remittances

Press Release By Western Union Published OnMarch 4, 2015

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– For this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global money transfer services, recognizes the economic impact that international migrant women are having on both the global economy and their home economies as they cross borders for new opportunities.

As a company serving women, who represent nearly 51 percent of its customers sending cross-border money transfers, Western Union celebrates the economic power of women, who comprise almost 50 percent of international migrants and remit 50 percent of the World Bank’s estimated USD582 billion in global remittances.

Based on analysis of global trends, Western Union said women send a greater percentage of their wages, while sending the same amounts as men. Both men and women primarily send to women (about two-thirds of receivers are women1), reinforcing the importance of women as the core of home financial management.

“Women have emerged from the margins of the international migration equation to become decision makers and essential contributors to the financial well-being of their families and communities,” said Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO, Western Union.

“As women significantly influence the use of remittances for education, women’s international remittances contribute to human capital-building globally while also reinforcing the backbone of so many remittance-receiving economies. We see it every day across the world, more than half of the remittances we move are made by women,” Ersek said.

Women are Migrating as Much as Men

Today migrant women represent 48 percent of all international migrants and are finding jobs in multiple sectors and disciplines or starting their own businesses, according to the United Nations2, dismissing some misconceptions that women were “second wave” migrants, traveling only as part of a family or once relatives have established themselves in a new home. Whereas men have historically migrated to industrialized economies for both manual labor and technical or professional jobs, today women workers are migrating to countries with strong service-based economies where they will have greater opportunity. The proportion of women to men migrants significantly varies by country and can be as high as 70 – 80 percent in some cases3.

Women Senders Remit More Out of Their Wages and Women Receive the Bulk of Remittances

Female international migrants send approximately the same total amount of remittances as their male counterparts, sending a higher proportion of their income, even though they generally earn less than men, according to International Organization of Migration (IOM)4. The IOM states that women usually send money more regularly and for longer periods of time.

Women international migrants are also more likely than men to act as a safety net for families back home during emergencies and bad economic times. Additionally, when women send international remittances, these women gain more autonomy and negotiating power within the overall family1.

According to the United Nations1, international migrant men and women prefer to send remittances to women (two-thirds), reinforcing the global finding that women are the household financial managers. Studies show international women senders and receivers channel remittances in ways that directly benefit the family, including food, education, healthcare, housing and savings, while men remittance receivers tend to spend slightly more on the consumption of goods, according to Western Union analysis.

Greater Access to Financial Services Critical to Empowering Women

Ersek reiterated Western Union’s support for migrant women on International Women’s Day, noting their courage and dedication. “Greater access to financial services is critical to advancing the financial inclusion and literacy of women within the global economy, particularly with the use of new technologies – such as mobile,” he said. “The public and private sectors around the world have a collective role to drive for real inclusion, and Western Union is distinctively positioned to provide access for banked, under-banked and un-banked international remittance senders and receivers, as well as to facilitate rapid payments for cross border trade for small and medium enterprises.”

“We have a responsibility to tailor services for a growing and influential group of international workers,” said Ersek. “Western Union offers nearly half a million Agent locations, and we are improving choices, with the goal of allowing people to send money any time, any way and (almost) anywhere on earth, through an array of pay-in options such as cash, bank account, debit, credit, prepaid, online, mobile wallet and now Apple Pay in the U.S.”

Migrant Women Gain in Financial Transaction Sophistication

“Women have increased their participation with banks around the world as places to send and receive money,” Ersek added, “although we find the majority of Western Union money transfer customers still prefer cash due to convenience and accessibility.” According to the World Bank, 46.6 percent of women globally have an account at a formal financial institution (vs. 54.5 percent of men). However, in developing economies, women are 8 percent less likely to have an account than men. Further, women have narrowed the gender gap in their financial practices as 13.4 percent of women use electronic payment methods to make payments (vs. 15.6 percent of men) and 21 percent of women saved money at a financial institution (vs. 23.9 percent of men).

The World Bank5 also found that women are rapidly approaching parity with men when it comes to sending and receiving money. Nearly seven percent of women use their bank accounts to receive remittances (vs. 7.6% of men) and six percent of women use their account to send remittances (vs. 8.0% of men). Mobile phones are gaining popularity with nearly three percent of women to receive money (vs. 3.5% of men), and nearly two percent of women use their mobile phone to send money (vs. 2.7% of men).6

About International Woman’s Day

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organizations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media around the world celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for the internationalwomensday.com global hub, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of December 31, 2014, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and over 100,000 ATMs and kiosks. In 2014, The Western Union Company completed 255 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $85 billion of principal between consumers, and 484 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.


1 International Organization of Migration (IOM) and United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement (UN-INSTRAW) 2007; IOM et al., 2007
3 Linking Women Remitters & Senders to Financial Services, Women’s World Banking, 2011
4 IOM Report 2013
5 World Bank Report 2011
6 Financial inclusion by gender. (2011) World Bank


Source: Western Union

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