Gender Issue Guide: Housing and Slum Upgrading
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Access to adequate housing is a fundamental human right and is enshrined in numerous international agreements and conventions. “Within the overall context of an enabling approach,” states Paragraph 61 of the Habitat Agenda, “governments should take appropriate action in order to promote, protect and ensure the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing.” Yet millions of women and men continue to live in towns and cities without security of tenure and with inadequate housing and related services. Housing and the related services, i.e. residential areas, are a major component of any urban centre. They form an intimate part of the urban fabric. However, the housing fabric of cities has diverse neighbourhoods, with housing stock of different sizes, materials, and inhabitants. Slums and informal settlements in urban centres often have high population densities and occupy a smaller geographical space compared to single-family or estate housing in low-density neighbourhoods. And as with urbanization processes themselves, the right to housing and services is determined by gender, power, privilege, and discrimination. Since women participate less in decision making and have less access to assets and resources, they also have less access to land and housing. Low-income women and men in slums and informal settlements live with the most tenure and housing-related insecurity; low-income single women and women-headed households are often even more restricted in their access to housing.