Cover Image
close this bookFocus on Women (HABITAT, 1991, 28 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document“Why focus on women?”
View the documentThe Global Strategy at a glance
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOverview from the regions
View the documentWomen and housing policy
View the documentWomen and construction
View the documentWomen and land
View the documentWomen and housing finance
View the documentCommunity participation
View the documentCommunications
View the documentRecommendations
View the documentMain actors


Effort should be made to place more women at decision-making levels

Several key factors emerged from the discussions in the working groups during the Seminar to Promote the Participation of Women in the Global Strategy for Shelter to the year 2000. All of them embody the thinking at the inter - regional seminar, and hence, chart the direction which participants thought the Strategy for the Full Participation of Women in the Global Strategy should take. It was therefore recommended that the Strategy for the Full Participation of Women should, among other things:

(a) Focus on poor and low-income women, and not try to cover all levels;

(b) Ensure that the relations between male and female members of households and societies be structured in such a way that the advance made by one generation of women are not lost to the next - and that the new relationships be embodied in law;

Women need to work together with men at all levels.

(c) Advocate a “paradigm shift” - from central government to community levels. Here, NGOs and CBOs should function as a bridge between the official, male-dominated, policy-making mechanism, thereby facilitating the emergence of a “shared language” - as distinct from the technical language often used by central government agencies;

(d) Set in place a system of communication and “negotiation” which does not depend on training alone, but also upon the deliberate creation of occasions conducive to open debate;

(e) Support the process of rethinking and reshaping the operational mechanisms and institutions engaged in housing and human settlements development. Successful approaches need to be documented and their results disseminated for wide use;

(f) Recognize and value the contributions of NGOs and CBOs, both of which should increase their networking-horizontally and vertically - in order to further the goals of the women’s Strategy;

(g) In order to narrow the gap between governments and the grassroots, an exchange of information about government policies and programmes through NGOs should be encouraged. Conversely, NGO knowledge about the conditions, needs and the desires of the grassroots communities can be made available to government and to society as a whole through appropriate media channels;

Information is power, links must be established for women to take a full part as initiators and purveyors of information.

(h) Support the development of partnership within the family, the community, and in the context of the Global Strategy, among the public, private and community-service sectors. It was further recommended that the role of the private sector needs further elaboration within the context of the Global Strategy;

(i) Facilitate further elaboration by UNCHS (Habitat) of the women’s Strategy in the Global Strategy, particularly with regard to infrastructural components needed in human settlements development, such as water, roads, transport, land, education and health;

(j) Increase knowledge and awareness of current environmental issues, including the vital contribution made by women;

Women should be involved at all levels of formulation and implementation of human settlements policies and programmes.

(k) Recognize the role of UNCHS (Habitat) to “enable” women and their collaborators in making the Strategy effective. One such enabling instrument would be the establishment of a focal point for women, adequately provided with resources and credentials equal to the scope assigned to UNCHS (Habitat) by the Commission of Human Settlements.

The women’s Strategy is patterned after the Global Strategy “Plan of Action 1989-1991”. However, the strategy goes beyond national shelter strategies and recommends the elaboration of community shelter Strategies as well. This is a logical development from concerns expressed by participants that there is currently little attention being given to poor women at the community level.