Right to adequate housing for people in situations of vulnerability
“The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions."
- Article 11.1 of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
"All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and … women’s equal ownership, access to and control over land and the equal right to own property and to adequate housing contribute to the full realization of human rights."
- Commission on Human Rights, 2005/25
In many countries, women’s rights are protected by law. But in practice, women face de facto discrimination in housing, land and inheritance rights. Compared to men, for example, women disproportionately lack security of tenure. This is linked to women’s poverty; vulnerability to violence; discriminatory laws, policies and programmes; and other factors which contribute to women’s overall inequality. Women living in poverty and in precarious conditions are particularly at risk of arrears and evictions. Women also make up most of the landless population.
Specific groups of women also face discrimination as a result of their class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, income, marital status or other factors. Indigenous and tribal women, women with disabilities, and lesbian and transgender women, for example, face additional vulnerabilities, pushing their right to enjoy adequate housing even further out of reach.
Realizing women’s rights to land and other productive resources (2020) (UN Human Rights publication HR/PUB/13/04/Rev. 1): This updated 2nd edition offers guidance to lawmakers, policymakers and civil society to support laws, policies and programmes that respect, protect and fulfil women’s rights to land and other productive resources. The publication shows how women’s rights to land and other productive resources are connected to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
Women and the Right to Adequate Housing (2012): This publication provides an overview on normative framework relating to the right to adequate housing of women under international human rights law and on discrimination against women in the areas of housing, land and property. It covers topics like inheritance, forced evictions, and violence against women and housing.
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Special Rapporteur on adequate housing web page on women and housing, including reports, regional consultations and resolutions
“Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.”
- Article 26.2 of the
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous peoples face a number of concerns with regard to adequate housing. They have poor housing situations in general, and are vulnerable to displacement. Indigenous people often experience insecurity of tenure over their traditional homelands, and housing alternatives offered by authorities are often culturally inappropriate.
Irregular or undocumented migrants, including rejected asylum-seekers, are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses, including violation of their right to adequate housing. Irregular migrants are often homeless, as an inability to pay rent usually results in immediate eviction. Their lack of legal status, and the criminalization of irregular migration in many countries, means that most will be unable or unwilling to challenge discriminatory or otherwise abusive rental practices and seek legal remedies.