ERRC Hosts Consultation with UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing
03 April 2006
In November 2005, the European Roma Rights Centre hosted the Central-Asia/ Eastern Europe Regional Consultation on Women's Right to Adequate Housing, in collaboration with Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Mr. Miloon Kothari. This was the sixth regional consultation that has been organised with the objective of providing an opportunity for civil society to have input into the Special Rapporteur's report to the UN Commission on Human Rights and to provide information to contribute to the advancement of women's rights.
The consultation took place between 20 and 23 of November 2005 in Budapest, where 15 women's rights activists delivered testimonies to the Special Rapporteur on women's right to adequate housing in their respective countries. The participants, four of whom were Romani, collectively represented 14 countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro (Kosovo), Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Ukraine.
The consultation consisted of a two-day pre-consultation training on the monitoring of housing rights violations, followed by two days of testimonies under the following themes: Legal and cultural obstacles to land inheritance and property rights of women; Forced evictions, discrimination and racial segregation in the field of housing; Multiple Discrimination; Roma and the right to adequate housing; Armed/ethnic conflict, militarism and fundamentalism; and Domestic violence.
The participants, through their testimonies and interaction during the consultation, identified several cross-cutting themes that affect women in many countries in the region. Violations of the right to adequate housing in the form of forced evictions, substandard housing, and segregation make women vulnerable to other abuses. Women belonging to disadvantaged groups often face multiple discrimination as they are discriminated against on the basis of gender as well as on the basis of their membership in these groups. Minority women are often victims of discriminatory traditions, in subordinated roles within their families and communities, while also living in segregated housing and suffering discrimination by the greater society as a whole. Segregated housing presents barriers to education and, by extension, employment. Lack of income is then a barrier to secure adequate housing, which renders women further dependant on men, as well as vulnerable to abuses such as domestic violence, trafficking and sexual exploitation. Laws lacking gender components and inadequate implementation of the law, as well as sexist attitudes and corruption by officials at all levels, perpetuates and further exacerbates the non-fulfillment of women's right to adequate housing.
The consultation also generated recommendations regarding how activists can take action locally, nationally, and internationally, to address the complex issues linked to violations of women's right to adequate housing. The Special Rapporteur, commissioned by the Commission on Human Rights to globally investigate situations concerning Women's Right to Adequate Housing, will incorporate his findings into his second report on Women and the Right to Adequate Housing, which he will submit to the Commission on Human Rights in April 2006, during the Commission's 62nd session. The report will be available online at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/housing/annual.htm.