Since September of 1981, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, put in place Article 15, which asserts:
"State Parties shall accord to women equality with men before the law...In particular, they shall give women equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property, and shall treat them equally in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals."When paired with Article 11 of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which defines the dimensions of adequate housing as: "adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, adequate security, adequate lighting and ventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and basic location with regard to work and basic facilities-- all at a reasonable cost", it is apparent that women are starting to receive more consideration under the law. In our study of women's relation to housing rights and property, we will look specifically at the issue of forced eviction.
"The United Nations estimates that there are over 100 million persons homeless worldwide and over 1 billion inadequately housed."
"Less than 5 percent of all international assistance has been directed towards housing or human settlements." (Source: United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Sixteenth Session, General Comment 7)
"Nearly one-third of households worldwide are now headed by women; in certain parts of Africa and Latin America, as many as 45 percent are female-headed. Households headed by women tend to be poorer than male headed households." "United Nations Centre For Human Settlements (UNCHS) (Habitat) estimates that at least 600 million people in the cities of developing countries live in shelters that are life-or health-threatening."
"According to the World Health Organization, some 70 million women and children live in homes where smoke from cooking fires damages their health."
"After food, housing is the largest item in a poor family's monthly spending: approximately 33 percent of its budget worldwide, and as much as 45 to 50 percent in Africa and Latin America."
"In some African countries, women, who account for more than 60 percent of the agricultural labor force, receive less than 10 percent of the credit allocated to small farmers and only 1 percent of the total allocated to agriculture."
"Habitat estimates that 50 percent of the population in developing countries have no water within 200 meters of their dwellings and that 32 percent lack safe drinking water." (Source: Women's Right to Land, Housing, and Property in Post Conflict situations and reconstruction", United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Land Management Series No. 9.)
"'Forced eviction' is defined as the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families, and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection" (United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Sixteenth Session. Geneva, 20 May 1997).At this meeting, solutions to curb the global practice of forced evictions were put forth. As a foundation for formulating remedies, the UN referred to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which dealt largely with the problem of displaced persons. As mentioned above, forced evictions occur when individuals are removed from their home and are provided with no resources to adequate housing. This can manifest in a variety of ways. As the UN committee noted, forced eviction is typically associated with situations of armed conflict, refugee movements, and population transfers.
In addition, forced evictions occur in the name of progress in urban areas around the globe. Beautification programs, the Olympic Games, and housing renovation are a few areas in which forced eviction occurs. Clearly, such measures boost the economy of the targeted area, and enforce UN attitudes of providing adequate housing. However, large numbers of people have been displaced through these actions, without benefit of home. As a response, the UN has said that State bodies will be required to provide information about the programs they plan to implement, so that forced eviction can be avoided: "Information is sought...which guarantee protection from eviction or guarantee rehousing based on mutual consent, by any persons living on or near to affected sites" (UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Sixteenth Session, 1997).
Section 10 of the UN Committee's general comments specifically name women, among other disadvantaged groups, as being in need of special aid in regard to this problem:
"Women...and other vulnerable individuals and groups all suffer disproportionately from the practice of forced eviction. Women in all groups are especially vulnerable given the extent of statutory and other forms of discrimination which often apply in relation to property rights (including home ownership) or rights of access to property or accommodation, and their particular vulnerability to acts of violence and sexual abuse when they are rendered homeless." (UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Sixteenth Session, 1997)The objective of this observation by the UN is to ensure that women will not be discriminated against if they are subject to forced eviction. The Committee requests that States enact procedures and guidelines so that this does not occur.