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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

Women and land

Access to land remains critical in the complex chain that links low-income Women and human settlements development. Urban land monopolies by commercial interests, rising land prices and the reluctance of governments to adopt appropriate land policies still deny low-income women their right to land-ownership. Legal, cultural, religious, institutional and economic constraints restrict women’s access to land tenure.


The participation of women in the formal construction sector is low, more so in developing than in industrialized countries.

The land reforms of both rural/agricultural programmes and urban sites-and-services schemes have not addressed the issue of land-ownership adequately. The implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women also falls short of expectations, since even those property rights stipulated under it are not honoured by a large number of signatories.

Access to secure and legitimate shelter in the vicinity of income-generating opportunities - with infrastructure such as roads, water supply and drainage - remains an unmet dream for millions in developing regions, with increasing numbers of low-income people finding accommodation, most of it insecure, through informal channels.

Public-sector interventions seldom cater for households headed by women because they usually omit the lowest in the low-income strata, given that ability to repay still remains an important eligibility criterion for public-sector schemes. The private sector does not represent an alternative when both lack of information and social pressures place women at a disadvantage in commercial and non-commercial land deals.