Women’s Pioneer Chief Executive Denise Fowler co-chairs the Women’s Housing Forum (WHF) with Housing for Women’s Chief Executive Zaiba Qureshi. We believe that housing is a feminist issue, and so the vision of the forum is a place where everyone who cares about women’s housing can have an equal voice and come together to tackle the structural inequality that women face.
We are delighted to say that the inaugural meeting of the forum, which took place Friday 18th January 2019, was a storming success! We sold out of tickets for the event days in advance, and even had people on the waiting list! Women – and a few men – joined us from across the country to discuss and raise awareness of women’s housing needs.
We had fantastic support from women in the sector and those with lived experience, running 3 workshops: Women & Design; Women, Young Girls & Homelessness, and Domestic Abuse & Housing. These workshops were to facilitate discussion and generate ideas on what the forum can seek to do to improve women’s issues in housing across those three areas. We shared factsheets on each topic, and research the National Housing Federation produced for the forum on Women, Money and Housing. Find that research here.
There was a buzz unique to this event, everyone was open, friendly and eager to talk about women’s housing. Denise in her closing remarks pinpointed perhaps why it felt different: “No-one was here to promote themselves. No-one was here to talk about their idea and not listen to anyone else“.
Our hashtags (#WHFJan19 and #HousingIsAFeministIssue) and twitter feed (@womens_housing) BLEW UP on Friday. We now have over 700 twitter followers – we gained about 200 from Friday alone. We are going to build on this momentum. Chief executives of the National Housing Federation and the Chartered Institute of Housing Kate Henderson and Terrie Alafat – both of whom gave speeches on Friday – gave us the support of their organisations, telling the room that women’s housing is a priority for them. We got great feedback in the “Next Steps” session – and so the next step for the Women’s Housing Forum’s steering group will be to decide which direction to go in. Do we become a membership organisation, fundraise, seek more sponsors?
The steering group for the forum are compiling a report to summarise the day and outline our next steps to everyone interested in the forum, which will be updated via twitter and the WHF website. Watch this space!