Gender Equality in Land and Property is Critical to Economic Development

July 2, 2012

By Anjali Bean (Research and Policy Associate, International Housing Coalition*)

Gender equality in property rights is a critical human rights issue and a key driver of overall economic development.  Women have less access to shelter, income, water, food, education, and healthcare when compared to men, leading to what is often called the “feminization of poverty.” While women are increasingly heads of households, today women and girls make up 70 percent of the estimated 1.2 billion people living in absolute poverty, defined as living on less than $1 a day. In addition, women hold only an estimated 1-2 percent of all titled land in the developing world.

This new paper prepared by the International Housing Coalition and the Urban Institute and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation looks at the nexus of three issues in a specifically urban context: (1) The rights of women to participate in property use and ownership with full legal and societal protection; (2) the importance to economic development of property rights in urban areas; and (3) the role of women in economic development. Arguing that improving the property rights of women is not only a matter of human rights and equality but a fundamental principle that underlies economic development for all people, the paper offers recommendations for more effective development programming and implementation through the integration of these issues in urban areas and especially slums.  The full paper is available here.

* The International Housing Coalition (IHC) is a non-profit membership organization, headquartered in Washington, DC, which raises awareness of and advocates for adequate housing conditions, slum improvement and effective responses to rapid urban growth.


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