How—and how much—housing and land rights violations affect women
Dispossession, forced eviction and other land and housing rights violations can have a more-significant and differentiated impact on women, given that women are often more social and economically vulnerable than men. This is particularly true, as women often start out from a position of unequal rights to housing and land. To address this issue, HIC-HLRN is genderizing its Violations Impact Assessment Tool through its application in cases of women’s dispossession in Uganda, Kenya and India.
HIC-HLRN has partnered with Shelter and Settlements Alternative : Uganda Human Settlements Network to organize the first of two workshops in Kampala, Uganda (10–12 April 2019) within HLRN’s “Women, Land and Housing Rights: Assessing the Impacts of Dispossession” project to build civil society capacity at strategic monitoring and documenting priority cases. The objective of the learning workshop was to support and develop the capacity of local civil society through the use of human rights frameworks and corresponding state obligations as mechanisms and tools for assessment and quantification of the impacts of violations.
Action for Development (ACFODE), a Ugandan civil society organization, began the learning sessions by localizing the concept of gender equality as a women’s rights approach to land and housing. HLRN then outlined the relevant international and regional human rights legislative frameworks and protection mechanisms, highlighting the important distinction between a state’s treaty obligations and voluntary commitments, as well as principles of remedy and reparation for gross violations of women’s land and property rights.
Participants were introduced to the HIC-HLRN Violations Database as a tool for strategic monitoring and reporting on human rights, as well as some of the classic gaps and shortfalls in data to convey the real consequences of forced eviction, demolition, dispossession and denial of equal inheritance. The main technique to fill the monitoring gaps is the HIC-HLRN Violations Impact Assessment Tool, the application of forms the instrument of the project. Partners from the Mazingira Institute and Pamoja Trust, in Kenya, shared their experience of applying the Violations Impact Assessment Tool to assess the impacts of women from forced eviction cases in Nairobi.
Four local women then provided testimonies that articulated the losses, costs and damage of housing and land rights violations in the victims’ own words. In the final brainstorming session, participants developed a typology of instances involving forced eviction, dispossession, denial of inheritance and property rights of women in Uganda, identifying their causes, current phases of the violation and types of redress needed.
The three-day learning exercise laid the groundwork for further elaboration and prioritization of cases to be followed by a subsequent technical workshop to customize the HLRN Violation Impact Assessment Tool to quantify and document the full costs, losses and damages arising from violations of women’s rights to access, use and control land for housing and other livelihood activities.
These workshops are components of a collaborative effort to pursue remedy with the full accounting of women’s values at stake before, during and after the loss and denial of land and home. The combined effort seeks to apply universal human rights as the guiding normative framework for determining violations and to enumerate consequences toward appropriate remedies. The project is being carried out in Uganda, Kenya and India throughout 2018 and 2019 to contribute to consciousness of real costs to women of denying their human rights to adequate housing and land, with the goals of remedy, reparation and ultimate deterrence of further violations.
Full workshop report
Photo: Banner from the Kampala workshop. Source: HLRN.