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The Women and Shelter Network is a collection of organisations that recognise the particular struggle of women in accessing land and housing, and participation in all aspects of human settlements development. Member organisations support and work with low-income communities and link to provide mutual capacity building and solidarity both regionally and around the globe.

The Women and Shelter Group was formed in 1987 within the Habitat International Coalition (HIC). By doing so, the HIC Board and membership recognised the key role of women in HIC’s work for the right to land and housing for those living in poverty. In 1988, the Group evolved into a HIC Committee and then developed as a Network to carry out its activities. The Network has had a formal consulting relationship with UNCHS-Habitat since 1989. As part of our work together, UNCHS-Habitat has recommended to governments to work with HIC-WAS member organisations in their own countries.



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 re-structured to 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 to a secure place to live in peace and dignity, in developing and developed countries.

In one of its first actions under the new structure, the HIC board, nominated, in November 1987, regional representatives and created the Women and Shelter Group 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, from 28th to 31st of 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.