Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Sheela Patel and Diana Mitlin Introduction In over 15 countries in the Global South, federations formed by the urban poor (slum and shack dwellers and the homeless) have become important actors in poverty reduction, working not only on community-level initiatives but also at the level of cities and nations. The foundations of these federations are savings groups in local neighbourhoods, initiated and managed by women. Federations form as savings groups from ‘slums’, and informal settlements come together, first at the city and then at the national level. These savings groups and the larger federations they create not only manage savings and credit but undertake many initiatives, such as securing land, upgrading homes, and improving community services and infrastructure – for instance community toilets with washing facilities. In many nations, these federations’ initiatives reach thousands of households; in some, tens of thousands. All these federations visit each other, learn from and support each other; they have also formed a network organisation, Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), to support their international exchange programmes and their negotiations with international agencies. Most federations also work in partnership with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) One of the most notable aspects of these federations is the central role that women have in all of them. This is even so in nations where gender relations are very unequal and grassroots organisations have long been controlled by men. Since women’s participation and representation were not easily achieved, it is instructive to consider the vision and practice of this network. The...
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