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Home ownership key to women’s empowerment


Despite high demand for housing loans, they remain constrained by low income, inability to meet bank requirement

Despite high demand for housing loans, they remain constrained by low income, inability to meet bank requirement

Friday July 31 2020

Home ownership is crucial in enabling women weather economic turbulence caused by pandemics such as Covid-19.

During a recent Her Home-Housing Finance for Women webinar organised by International Finance Corporation (IFC), stakeholders in the housing industry said women are more resilient when they own homes.

“As we recover from this pandemic, women can use their housing to better withstand any further emergencies. Housing finance adds to women’s and families’ resilience,” said Executive Director and Founder of Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) Kecia Rust.

A 2019 study by IFC on women’s home ownership in Kenya shows a high demand for housing finance products among women. IFC estimates $14.8 billion as the size of market for women’s housing loans.

The study’s report indicates that 33 per cent of female-headed households and 66 per cent of joint decision-making households intend to purchase a house in the next five years.

“Overwhelming majority of women want to purchase a house (91 per cent), rather than an apartment.

Yet, despite high demand, women remain constrained by low income and inability to meet bank requirements,” reads a section of the Her Home-Housing Finance for Women (2019) report.

Women are, however, shown to save more than men despite their lower income. Their housing loans are also more approved than those of men.

EXCLUDED BY MEN

The study which sampled major financial institutions active in housing finance shows of the total applicants for housing finance, women made the majority(87 per cent) of loans approved against 60 per cent.

IFC’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu noted that home ownership is crucial to women’s economic empowerment.

She said: “Women can run businesses from home and can use a home loan to establish credit.”

KCB Head of Mortgage Caroline Kihara, however, said many women lose their homes because their spouses exclude them while buying property.

“As head of mortgage, I see a lot of women losing their property or they were never included in their property when the husband passes on,” she said.

She said digitising the land registry could eliminate the risks of property loss.

“Women will be assured of transparency with digitisation of land records. By click of a button they will know the status of property ownership,” she added.