Summary of research findings from PAH – Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca in Barcelona, Spain.
Key words: Evictions, Women, Empowerment
Data collection methods used: online survey, focus group discussions and interviews
Research findings: Throughout the study and the interviews we have been able to see the need to incorporate a gender perspective ever more in the analysis of the causes and consequences of residential insecurity and access to supplies needed to generate public policies that respond to the reality of the entire population without discrimination due to sex, origin or economic situation.
The lack of gender disaggregated data is evident and problematic, which is why we value this investigation positively.
Women’s precarious situation in the labor market is evident and studied as a wage gap and also has a direct impact on their housing problems, increasing the risk of residential exclusion.
The strong bond of women with their homes and in the work on care, aggravated by their crisis, often forces them to participate less in the paid labor market or overloads them with work and family tasks. The consequence is that women are more affected by the loss of housing and/or lack of supplies. Among the groups where the risk of poverty is greater -and therefore the risk of suffering residential insecurity and/or energy poverty- we found single-mother families, retired women, domestic workers – be it for the family or employed elsewhere -, unemployed women, those affected by gender violence and migrant women.
We can affirm that the results of the surveys and interviews confirm what we had previously stated, that there is a worrying gender inequality in the protection of the right to decent housing and basic supplies and that women are the most affected in the processes of loss of housing or inability to carry for cost of supplies.
About 34% of the women are single-mother families and 26% of the evictions are exerted upon women with extraordinary measures of eviction moratorium. On the other hand, taking into account the female relationship at home and in the work on care, the strong presence of children under 15 years of age and -11- other dependents further confirms this under-representation.
In addition, the still existing greater involvement of women at home and the work on care increases the negative consequences of residential insecurity and energy poverty in the field of physical and mental health.
At the same time, and partly for the same reasons, women are over-represented in PAH assemblies. Initially, and given the prevailing culture men as family heads along their guilt feeling – in the case of mortgages -, women took the initiative to move forward with the situation. This also implies that they play a fundamental leadership role for the movement, both in the development of the assemblies themselves but also in the various daily activities (actions to stop evictions, mobilization campaigns, elaboration
of legislative proposals, work in the various PAH’s commissions, etc.) as well as in the long-term processes of collective care, entrepreneurship, advice and empowerment that are at the base of PAH’s action and, more generally, for the right to housing.
For this reason, we believe that public policies that refer to housing and supplies should be oriented towards a structural gender perspective; positive measures are not enough, such as priority access for those affected by gender-based violence – with a complaint. We should take into account the iceberg figure of gender-based violence – or of single-mother families: with an
insufficient public housing stock and little realistic help, this priority does not translate into security or rights. It is urgent to increase the stock of social housing and guide policies towards curbing speculation and not towards promoting it.