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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 Network’s mission is “to unite, promote and support women and their organisations in the development of human settlements that improve women’s and a community’s quality of life.”
The Network operates under the principles of:

  • recognition of the major role women play in the development of human settlements;
  • equality, justice, tolerance, pluralism, solidarity and change within society through concrete work;
  • democracy and women’s right to participate directly in decision making, planning, execution and follow-up of urban, rural, land and housing policies.

HIC-WAS works on local, national, regional and international levels,

  • to promote and strengthen horizontal exchanges among members,
  • to support lobbying for land and housing rights for women,
  • to link global processes with local action,
  • to provide greater access to information and training on human settlements,
  • to create public awareness about the priorities of women and habitat,
  • to voice the concerns of women in low income communities,
  • to ensure women’s concerns are policy priorities for agents working in human settlement development,
  • to develop and deliver campaigns that ensure policies support women’s priorities,
  • to promote the development of disaggregated data and clear indicators that measure women’s access to land and shelter.

The Network is composed by Initiative Centres (IC) that actively promote the objectives and activities of the Network through concrete work in their countries. These name a regional or subregional Reference Centre (RC) that together form the Women and Shelter Group, the directing body of the Network. The Group formulates policies and designates the HIC-WAS International Secretariat to facilitate and support the Network’s activities.

Membership is open to all organisations and individuals addressing issues of human settlements who have or want to develop a focus on women.