On the 23rd of February 2023, SERI partnered with the Slovo Park informal Settlement to host a Women’s Spaces Consultation. The day long consultation focused on the gendered challenges and experiences faced by residents across the informal settlement. Specifically, the consultation sought to gain deeper insight into the challenges women face in terms of tenure security, access to basic services, participation as well as livelihoods within the settlement. In this context, both male and female residents were invited to the consultation to engage on some of the challenges faced within the settlement. The overall purpose of the consultation is to inform a working paper on the implementation of the upgrading of informal settlements program (UISP) which seeks to upgrade informal settlements in situ.
The engagement highlighted that men and women have inherently different experiences of essential services, division of household labour as well as tenure security, re-enforcing the importance of gender responsive implementation of housing related policies and programs. For example, in terms of services, the need for adequate toilets and running water are inherently gendered. Pit latrine toilets present a greater health risk to women. Differences such as these need to be acknowledged to ensure that the dignity, privacy and safety of all residents are upheld throughout the upgrading process. The consultation also illuminated the need for recognition of the value of unpaid care work done by women for the benefit of their households and communities. Additionally, rights relating to areas of employment such as domestic work, which are overwhelmingly done by women, were brought to the forefront of the discussion.
Women participants expressed the need for more spaces dedicated exclusively to women’s issues and the benefit in recognizing the universal nature of some of the challenges they experience in their day to day lives.
The consultation formed part of the Women’s Spaces project, which is executed by Rooftops Cananda Abri International, through the support of the Government of Canada via Global Affairs Canada.