| Daughters of Sysiphus |
|Premises of the study|
The search for solutions to the problem of providing low-income shelter continues to occupy the attention of national governments, international agencies and organizations within the voluntary sector. Despite the enormous efforts that have been made, the problem continues to grow and has become particularly alarming with the rapid growth of low-income populations in the cities of the third world. With increasing urbanization, the incidence of single-parent families is also rising and these are families that are predominantly headed by women. Indeed the growth in the numbers of female-headed households in urban areas world-wide and their over-representation amongst the poor has led to a new concept in development thinking "the feminization of poverty"
As studies of poverty have confirmed that there is a relationship between gender and poverty, it has become clear to policy-makers and practitioners in the shelter sector that an understanding of gender dynamics within the sector may well be critical if future shelter interventions are not to prove superficial. Until it is understood how low-income households, and particularly female-headed low-income households, currently cope with their shelter needs, it is unlikely that appropriate means of helping them to do it better will be devised. However, there have been relatively few attempts by national governments to make shelter interventions on a consciously gender specific basis and the question of gender has rarely been addressed by national housing policies that have guided public sector housing strategies. To a large degree, this has been because the issue of gender has not been recognized as a valid issue by those who are responsible for the development of shelter policy. Even when this recognition does exist, there has often been a lack of the Information and guidance necessary for the development of gender-sensitive policies and practices.
The aim of this study is to provide some of the information and guidance that is currently needed. It is to be hoped that further work in other regions will be forthcoming so that a significant gap in understanding shelter processes may eventually be bridged, allowing for the development of policies and strategies that will provide a real and lasting contribution to the awesome task of providing adequate and appropriate shelter for all the world's homeless.