Briefing Paper

A Gender Lens on Informal Settlement Upgrading: Strengthening Women’s Participation

In the context of persisting gender inequality, women’s participation in informal settlement upgrading
in South Africa needs special attention. Disparities in access to resources are coupled with gender
relations that are biased towards male power and marginalise the voice, agency and influence of
women. This limits the contributions of women in upgrading projects and the potential for upgrading
projects to contribute to gender equality. Informal settlement upgrading practitioners observe this
in community participation processes. This issue highlights the need for a human settlement policy
that acknowledges the effect of gender relations on informal settlement upgrading and creates an
enabling environment for women to participate equally in transforming their living conditions.