Women and Shelter Network

The Women and Shelter Network (HIC-WAS) is a group of organisations that recognize the particular struggle of women in accessing land and housing and in participating in all aspects of human settlements development. Member organizations support and work with low-income communities, and link to provide mutual capacity-building and solidarity both regionally and globally.  The network has developed initiatives highlighting and strengthening women’s participation in the struggle for land and urban services, and has had a formal consulting relationship with UN Habitat since 1989. 

The network is composed of initiative centers that actively promote the objectives and activities of the network through concrete work in their respective countries.  These designate a regional or sub-regional reference centre that together form the Women and Shelter Group, the directing body of the network. The group formulates policies and designates the International Secretariat to facilitate and support the network’s activities. 

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

To join the network, please clik here

 About HIC-WAS:


The Habitat International Coalition (HIC) was established after the UN Habitat Conference of 1976 as an ad hoc committee of over 180 NGOs. In 1987, during the International Year of Shelter for 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.

That same year the HIC board nominated 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 its first meeting in New Delhi, India, from March 28 to 31, 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 to identify shelter priorities, exchange experiences, acquire information and skills and influence shelter policy and planning.

During the formal presentation of its plan of action to the HIC board on April 1st, 1988, an agreement was reached on the establishment of the Women and Shelter Network (HIC-WAS) and on the representation by three members of the Women and Shelter Group on the HIC board. The network’s group was formally adopted as a HIC sub-committee, and women and shelter representatives were named for the other three sub-committees. The group met again in December 1988 in Stockholm, Sweden, to produce documentation required by the HIC board to 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 in Kenya as the Network Secretariat, which continued until 1995. In January 1996, the secretariat was transferred to Fedevivienda in Colombia for an interim period and in early 1997, the secretariat was transferred for a three-year term to the Women Advancement Trust in Tanzania.

In January 2007, HIC held global elections and elected three women and shelter representatives, with their alternates:

Maria das Graças Xavier (Brazil) and her alternate, Diana Miloslavich (Peru)
Léon Guy Mfomou (Cameroon) and his alternate, Mobola Fajemirokun (Nigeria)
Juliet Bannoura (Palestine) and her alternate, Anchita Ghatak (India)


The mission of the Women and Shelter Network is “to unite, promote and support women and their organizations in the development of human settlements that improve women’s and a community’s quality of life”.

The Women and Shelter 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 directly participate in decision-making, planning, execution, and follow-up or urban, rural, land and housing policies.


The Women and Shelter Network’s primary goal is to foster healthy, improved and sustainable human settlements for women in low-income communities.

HIC-WAS works at local, national, regional and international levels:

·to promote and strengthen horizontal exchanges among members

·to support lobbying for women’s land and housing rights

·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