WOMEN AND HOUSING RIGHTS
BUILDING HABITAT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY
Venue: Auditorio del Pati Manning, C/ Montealegre nº 7, Barcelona.
Date: 12 to 14 February 2008
National and international legislations widely recognize the right to adequate housing for all women. However, women both in the South and in the North are more likely to suffer from housing vulnerability .
The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing participated and promoted the organization of eight regional consultations throughout the world, which aimed at identifying obstacles that impede women’s enjoyment of their right to housing. During these meetings, common housing problems were identified, which transcended contexts and cultures. The main findings of these meetings were compiled in the document: “Women and the Right to Adequate Housing: An Introduction to Central Issues”.
Once the diagnosis phase was concluded, Habitat International Coalition (HIC) and Observatori DESC, members of the collaborating organizations, took up the project and are currently implementing this second phase: Women and Housing Rights; Building Habitat for Human Dignity that aims to formulate strategies for the fulfillment of the right to adequate housing by all women. In addition, it is intended to empower social organizations while influencing housing public policies.
Main working themes
Based on the findings of the regional consultations three main themes have been established on which the debate will be centred:
- Women and access to housing resources: strategies for equitable access to housing and land. This thematic area will address the impact of the multiple discriminations that women face regarding access to resources, water and an adequate environment, land and housing.
- Violence against women and the right to adequate to housing: strategies to face evictions, armed conflicts, urban reforms, mega-projects and domestic violence against women. This thematic area will discuss the many forms of violence against women regarding their housing rights and their right to not be arbitrarily evicted, both in the domestic and urban sphere.
- Women and management of the territory: strategies for democratic management of housing and resources. This thematic area addresses the issues related to housing rights and the gender perspective regarding women’s access to justice, women’s participation in politics and women’s participation in urban planning and city management.
The three thematic areas are based on the following background:
- The multiple discriminations that women face regarding the enjoyment of housing rights: in addition to economic obstacles that discriminate against women, there are other obstacles that place them in disadvantaged situations when it comes to the enjoyment of housing rights. Thus, strategies will target empowering the demand for housing rights of poor women, older women, minority women’s groups, lesbians, migrants, etc
- Broad interpretation of the right to adequate housing: the right to adequate housing should be interpreted much more widely than just four walls and a roof over one's head; it must, at minimum, include an adequate environment or habitat. This means that strategies will consider adequacy of the environment, urban or rural, and the consequent housing needs of women.
- The increasing violation of housing rights at local level for global reasons: the formulation of strategies will take into account the need to act at international level in order to control and redress violations at local level. Therefore, strategies will target working with international mechanisms and organizations for the protection of human rights, and will also focus on lobbying the local government management of housing resources.
Organisation of the work
Participants from all over the world will attend the seminar. All the participants live in different cultural contexts, have different agendas and priorities regarding women and their access to housing rights. Nevertheless, there are several common elements among them that must be emphasized and brought together and which will result in valuable inputs for the formulation of common strategies in the demand for rights. Our starting point is based on the belief that every participant has valuable experiences that will enrich the debate and will help in formulating strategies.
On this basis, we have chosen a work methodology that combines public meetings with internal working group sessions.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Mr. Miloon Kothari, promoter of the Consultations, and the Representative of the Catalan Government, will be the keynote speakers of the opening ceremony.
* This public event will take place on February 12 at 6.30 pm
Presentation of the themes to the plenary:
The three thematic areas – strategies for equitable access to housing and land; strategies to face evictions, armed conflicts, urban reforms, mega-projects and domestic violence against women and strategies for the democratic management of housing and resources- will be introduced to the plenary through introductory presentations. These presentations will focus on the results of the regional consultations on women and the right to housing, and they will present an overview of the different regional diagnoses. They will also constitute the starting point for the working group discussion.
Then, the UN Special Rapporteur will present the main findings and recommendations of his reports on women and housing which were submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.
Working Group Discussion
* The presentation will take place in the morning session of Feb. 13 and will be limited to registered participants.
Three working groups will discuss the presentations and the main trends of the thematic issues. These simultaneous debates will encourage participants’ involvement in the debate. All three groups will address the three thematic issues.
These groups will use the papers and documents elaborated by the participants as inputs for the discussion. Participants will have the chance to briefly present the strategies they are using in their daily work to demand fulfillment of the right to adequate housing.
Each group will have a facilitator that will set the dynamics and the pace of the discussion in order to enable the group to come up with useful strategies for the plenary.
In order to facilitate the variety of strategies and to enrich discussion, the groups will take into account geographical, ethnic and working area diversity (international, local, urban, rural, etc).
The working groups will be composed of participants and will be closed to the public. They will take place during February 13 and 14.
Presentations of recommendations and closing ceremony
The conclusions of the different groups will be presented to the plenary, followed by an open discussion that will result in the integration of the three groups’ recommendations into a strategy formulation. The guidelines for action resulting from this plenary will be publicly presented in the closing ceremony.
The closing ceremony will take place on February 14 at 6.30pm and will be conducted by Eva Fernández, president of the Federation of Neighbours’ Associations of Barcelona.
According to the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), almost one third of women throughout the world do not have access to housing or live in a inadequate housing conditions. Moreover, COHRE states that although women’s labour makes up two thirds of world labour, women own less than 1% of the property of land in the world. In addition to this, the UN has declared that women and children constitute 80% of the 50 million world refugees and displaced people.
Eight regional consultations were organized: Regional Africa Consultation (Kenya 2002); Asia Regional Consultation on the Interlinkages between Violence against Women and Women's Right to Adequate Housing (India, October 2003) ; Latin America and Caribbean Regional Consultation on Women and Adequate Housing (Mexico, December 2003) ; Middle East and North Africa Regional Consultation on Women's Right to Adequate Housing and Land (Egypt, July 2004) ; Pacific Regional Consultation on Women's Rights to Adequate Housing and Land (Fiji, October 2004); North American Regional Consultation on Women and the Right to Adequate Housing (USA, October 2005) ; Central-Asia/Eastern Europe Regional Consultation on Women's Right to Adequate Housing - the interlinkages between multiple discrimination and women's right to adequate housing (Hungary, November 2005) ; Mediterranean Regional Consultation on Women's Right to Adequate Housing (Spain , March 2006).