Room for empowerment

Type Journal Article - Oxford Development Studies
Title Room for empowerment
Volume 49
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2021
Page numbers 23-38
The South African National Housing Program has sought to address housing insecurity by subsidising millions of low-cost housing units. The policy uses a gender-sensitive approach, by mandating joint titling and prioritising women-headed households as subsidy recipients. This paper examines the extent to which the policy has succeeded at empowering women through housing ownership. The paper finds limited evidence on the policy’s impact as a mechanism for women’s empowerment. No significant change is detected in women’s labour supply or well-being. Women who are co-owners appear to participate less in primary decision-making, but more so in joint decision-making. For women who are sole-owners however, the subsidy seems to increase primary decision-making and decrease joint decision-making. Moreover, the subsidy appears to decrease consensus within in the household about the identity of the decision-makers. Despite ambiguous results, the distribution of housing to women should not be abandoned and remains a pressing policy objective.

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