Women & housing rights

Housing rights violations are not gender-neutral.

More than 70 percent of people living in inadequate housing are women and housing rights violations impact women in gender-specific ways.

From the woman who has no other housing option than to stay in a situation of domestic violence in order to keep from becoming homeless, to the young mother struggling in the slums without basic tenure security for herself and her family, to the girl orphaned by HIV/AIDS and prohibited from inheriting housing and land on an equal basis with her brothers, it is women and girls who find themselves confronted with the most desperate situations of housing insecurity.

COHRE believes that securing women’s rights to housing and land is fundamental to improving women’s status and their lives.

Women are often the primary targets during forced evictions, which most often take place during the day, when women are at home. In the midst of the violence and chaos that often accompanies forced evictions, the perpetrators of forced evictions – including the police – often commit acts of physical and sexual abuse against women and girls.

Concepts such as the “head of household” are also commonly used to deprive women of equal ownership and security of tenure.

In order to secure women’s housing and land rights, COHRE believes that we must use a methodology and approach that recognises that gender-neutral forms of advocacy are not enough to make a real change in the lives of women. It must also be understood that those women’s housing rights violations are not only rooted in unjust systems of poverty and social neglect, they are also deeply-rooted in systems of gender-based oppression that must themselves be challenged and put right.

To ensure that housing rights benefit women and advance the goal of gender equality, COHRE’s Women and Housing Rights Initiative works to:

  • Enforce and strengthen the international human rights framework so that women are able to fully enjoy their housing and land rights in practice.

  • Defend and advocate on behalf of women’s housing and land rights at all levels and fight against the denial of these rights in all forms.

  • Empower and support women and their advocates to effectively claim women’s housing and land rights and to combat gender-based discrimination.

For more information, please contact Mayra Gomez, COHRE’s Senior Expert on Women and Housing Rights, on women@cohre.org.