Housing and Feminism
Self Build Housing
Training and Technical
Shelter and Service
Planning and Design
Studies of Women's Self Build Housing
All of the case studies presented in this report illustrate one underlying
fact. Whether funding is from a public or private source, whether building
is seen as an individual or group effort, the creation of any house remains
bound up in the activities of all sectors of society: state, market and
This is true for Marion who's friends helped out at mud brick making parties,
who hired an architect to draw her plans, who was a participant in a state
run self build program. It is true for Tashe, who paid a blacksmith to make
the ring for her skylight, who built in a women's community, who saved money
from her dole to buy construction materials.
This section of the report will look at what each sector can do to support
women who take the self build option.
Women can organise and offer each other enormous support. Strategies to
assist women who want to take the self build option include:
Establish a local organisation to connect women who have built with those
who want to. These can then be linked to share information and develop services.
Services can be provided through local community providores, for example
a short course on house framing could be run through the local Skillshare,
energy efficient design could be a night course at the adult education facility.
The organisation could compile lists of local trades people who were supportive,
or a list of trade suppliers offering good service.
Women who have successfully built houses can organise public meetings to
speak on building for women, or run workshops on getting your plans through
council, or making good use of local resources to make your building more
Women's organisations generally can offer support groups to promote confidence
development and build self esteem.
Women can receive increased support in their endeavours from all levels
of government, in terms of direct housing service provision and indirectly
from other areas.
Municipal bodies need to make themselves approachable and relevant. They
can make their permit procedures transparent and offer full information
on these processes. More flexibility around the issues of dual and multiple
occupancy is needed. Provision should be made to waive permit fees for those
in financial hardship.
Local councils are well placed to conduct short educational programs on
locally appropriate building practices. These can be taught in a way appropriate
to women. This may mean, for example, using plain English instead of technical
jargon, and starting at a very basic level such as using hand tools.
Self-help programs that are initiated and controlled by the state need to
be revised in the light of this report. Time frames for construction that
assume the labour input of a couple or even a single man need to be revised
to take account of the fact that a single women or women with familial commitments
may have less time to contribute.
They also need specific changes to programs allowing women to build within
their own communities thus protecting the integrity of support networks.
Further change is needed to allow more flexibility in the design of houses,
larger homes and more choice about material for construction.
Strategies need to be identified to give women greater access to land within
their local communities.
Education in building and technical subjects, needs to be opened up to women.
State education providers should develop specific courses, taught by and
marketed towards women. Intervention is needed at pre school, primary and
secondary schools to counter the spread of stereotypes that promote building
as an occupation for men only.
Steps can be taken to direct employment development funds towards attracting
more women into non traditional areas. This is imperative in rural areas.
It is up to all people to demand that those involved in this sector become
and remains good corporate citizens. Businesses should adopt ethical behaviour
and work to change the culture of opportunism and short term profit attainment
some would say is typical of this sector.
The financial sector should develop products that reflect women's needs.
Too often women are seen as a bad risk because they are women. Alternative
financiers such as credit co-operatives have a large growing market just
waiting to hear from them. More can be done to promote alternative financial
Building industry associations could run education campaigns to raise awareness
in members on issues such as avoiding stereotyping, and basic skills such
as listening and negotiating. Incentives such as awards can be introduced
to promote standards of excellence in service.
Programs to attract women into built environment trades and professions
could be established.
Professional associations such as Royal Australian Institute of Architects
could conduct general community education campaigns on site and house design
for energy saving, bush fire safety, etc.. They could also establish community
technical aid centres for low cost or free technical available in conjunction
with normal fee for service work.