WASHINGTON, DC, OCTOBER 3, 2016- IHC Global and Habitat for Humanity International's Solid Ground Campaign co-hosted an event to celebrate World Habitat Day, and advocate for improving women's access to land and shelter worldwide. The event was co-sponsored by the Housing and Urban Development Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and addressed the critical issue of land rights and gender under the New Urban Agenda. Featuring presentations by representatives of civil society and of governmental organizations, the session provided a well-rounded view of land issues in an urban context.
Anne Myers from the Habitat for Humanity International Solid Ground Campaign, stressed the foundational significance of land to adequate housing and described the Campaign for Solid Ground's efforts to mobilize local and global support. Anthony Piaskowy of USAID's urban programs talked about the prominence that land has in the New Urban Agenda and advanced a concept of an urban tenure continuum. CEO of Landesa Chris Jochnick commented on the linkages between rural and urban areas and the sometimes differing legal regimes governing the two. IDB Lead Specialist for Housing and Urban Development Robin Rajack, in a talk which he entitled "Finding the Rhythm, not Changing the Song" spoke persuasively about the need to design policy and programs that build on the economic and other priorities that drive stakeholder decisions rather than attempting to alter these and to recognize the roles of many categories of stakeholders.
Moderated by IHC Global CEO Judith Hermanson, the presentations painted a challenging but on the whole hopeful picture -- that while there is still much room for improvement, civil society and governments are increasingly recognizing the fundamental importance of equal land rights, and many countries have made impressive strides. A large presenceat Habitat III supporting improved land rights will not only empower poor communities, it will elevate the women within them, and could lead to a positive impact on women's education, health and economic presence.