What We Do Background and Achievements Our History in Photos Board and Staff Canadian Partners Program Reports Ethics and Privacy
Africa Africa Regional Activities Asia Eastern Europe Latin America and the Caribbean Housing Micro-Finance - Leveraging Economic Growth Housing and HIV/AIDS Housing Rights and Governance Urban Food Security, Urban Agriculture and Housing Spaces
News Update E-bulletins Videos Archive
Employment Opportunities Technical Advisors Volunteers Internships
Gender Equality
Equal Spaces Project

Gender Equality

Take Action

 Enhancing Gender Equality in Social Housing in South Africa


After an intensive consultation process, the Rooftops Canada Equal Spaces Project helped finalize a Gender Equality Strategy for Social Housing in South Africa. All the main local stakeholders are on board, and implementation of priority interventions is starting. We think there will be some lessons for the Canadian co-op and social housing movement especially in light of the Canadian government’s commitment to gender based analysis in its new National Housing Strategy.


The Gender Equality Strategy include seven key interventions:

  • Improving security in and around housing projects;
  • Improving women residents access to community and social services, and enhancing their economic mobility;
  • Responding to and preventing gender based violence;
  • New policies and practices for women’s leadership and mobility in the sector;
  • Promoting women’s engagement in related professional and construction sectors;
  • Gender sensitive building and community design and management; and,
  • Collecting and managing gender differentiated information about the sector.


Implementation has started with the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) which plays funding, regulatory and capacity building roles. According to recent SHRA data, about 1/3 of all Board members and key managers in South African social housing institutions are women. This is excellent compared to the corporate sector in South Africa or anywhere else. About ¾ of people in these positions are “African Coloured or Indian” – which is very important in terms of broader transformation issues here. However, we are all committed to bringing ever more women into leadership to achieve gender equality.


During a recent workshop with the SHRA, it was agreed that it will need to establish clear policies and performance indicators to enhance women’s leadership and mobility in social housing. These will start as targets and be linked to training and support. The SHRA should consistently promote women’s leadership and consider this when allocating funding for project capital grants and capacity building. Finally, it should routinely report on the status of women’s leadership in the sector. To ensure there is broad sector buy-in to establish appropriate policies, programs and indicators on women’s leadership, the SHRA will soon organize a workshop with sector stakeholders.


We have also started work on two of the most critical aspects of the Gender Equality Strategy – ensuring the security of women and children living in social housing, and responding to gender based violence.


Canada’s new housing strategy necessarily focuses on women’s rights to access decent, safe and affordable housing. There is no mention of women’s roles in the housing sector other than as beneficiaries or consumers. We will share some of our emerging South African experiences with interested social and co-op housing organizations.