The Governing Council of UN-HABITAT on Friday passed a resolution providing new guidelines aimed at improving women’s land and property rights and access to finance.
"While we have some success stories with regard to land, UN-HABITAT’s research shows that the implementation of women’s rights to land, property and housing remains a formidable challenge facing the world today. This challenge persists despite a host of international human rights standards, Millennium Development Goal 3, and the 2005 World Summit Outcome, where women’s land, property and inheritance rights are seen as an important indicator of women’s empowerment and human development,” said UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka in a speech to the representatives of the 58 governments which meet every two years to set the agency’s work programme and budget.
“ Too often inheritance is treated as a peripheral issue in policies concerning security of tenure. Yet inheritance is the commonest way women are denied fair access to land. In a number of countries the constitution still allows discriminatory customary practices against women,” she said. “I am calling on all member States represented here to review your constitutions and laws and root out any discrimination against women, to face the challenge of advancing the lives of women through improving their access to land and their legal empowerment. Where they do not exist, women’s land and property rights need to be promulgated before one can tackle this problem seriously."
The resolution on Women’s land and property rights and access to finance was put forward by the President of the twenty-first session of the Governing Council, Kumari Selja, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation of India.
The resolution asks the Executive Director, in implementing the Habitat Agenda, to promote access to finance by low-income women, either as individuals, in cooperatives or in other associated forms, as a major contribution to the overall implementation of the Habitat Agenda and to urban poverty reduction. It also requires her requests the Executive Director, in implementing the Habitat Agenda, to develop a gender action plan with gender-specific performance indicators to ensure concrete, measurable gains for the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Furthermore it urges Governments and their development partners to support women’s land access trusts, housing cooperatives and other women’s organizations, including grassroots organizations, working on land, housing and housing finance to realize women’s access to land, housing, housing finance, and security of tenure; and finally requests the Executive Director to report on the implementation of the present resolution in her progress report to the Governing Council at its twenty-second session.
"It is vital that we promote access to finance by poverty-stricken women. It is vital that we help them form cooperatives and other associations so that they make their voices heard. By helping them with finance, believe me, we make a big impact on urban poverty reduction" Mrs. Tibaijuka said in her closing statement.