The Habitat International Coalition was established after the UN Habitat Conference of 1976 as an ad hoc committee of over 180 NGOs. During the International Year for Shelter and the Homeless, HIC was restructured as a regionally representative coalition based in developing countries, acting in defense of the rights of the homeless, the poor and the inadequately housed, promoting the right of everyone everywhere to a secure place to live in peace and dignity, in both developing and developed countries.
In one of its first actions under the new structure, the HIC Board, nominated regional representatives and created the Women and Shelter Group, in November 1987, in order to formulate a Plan of Action for HIC in the area of women and shelter. In their first meeting, in New Delhi, India, 28–31 March 1988, the Group worked to identify priority concerns, formulate a Plan of Action and define a structure that would allow and encourage women in community based organizations (CBOs) to identify shelter priorities, exchange experiences, acquire information and skills and influence shelter policy and planning.
During its formal presentation to the HIC Board on 1 April 1988, the Group recommended the establishment of the Women and Shelter Network and the representation of the Women and Shelter Group in the HIC Board by three members. The group was formally adopted as a HIC Subcommittee, and women and shelter representatives were named for the other three subcommittees. The group met again in December 1988, in Stockholm, Sweden, to produce documentation required by the HIC Board, draft an amendment to the HIC Constitution to incorporate the three HIC-WAS representatives into the Board, and begin the work of the Network itself.
Subsequent meetings in 1989 and 1990 served to define further the functions, structure and activities of the Network. In 1990, the Network officially designated the Mazingira Institute (Kenya) as the Network Secretariat, which continued until 1995. In January 1996, the Secretariat was transferred to Fedevivienda (Colombia) for an interim period of one year. In early 1997, the Secretariat was transferred for a three-year term to Women Advancement Trust (Tanzania).
After this period the network was disarticulated and until now Women and Shelter Network functioned as continental secretariats, especially in Latin America and Africa. Today Women and Shelter Network initiate a new phase. The recent elections of three representatives and their alternates mark the beginning of a new international period.
The new elected representatives are:
Maria das Graças (Brazil) and its alternate Diana Miloslavich (Perou)
Léon Guy (Cameroun) and its alternate Mobola Fajemirokun (Nigeria)
Juliet Bannoura (Palestine) and Anchita Ghatak (India)
During its last meeting day on January 26, by consensus the HIC Board members Shivani Bhardwaj, of the Sathi All for Partnership, India, HIC Board Alternate for HLRN, receives a mandate to lead the technical process of this new HIC WAS phase, based especially on the issue of women and land. The new responsabilities of Shivani Bhardwaj will be supported by Joseph Schechla and Ana Sugranyes, especially for the global organizational background
The four new WAS representatives, Maria das Graças, Léon Guy, Juliet Bannoura and Shivani Bhardwaj-- are appointed to represent HIC at the GLTN (http://www.gltn.net/) Gendered Workshop in August