Gendering Women’s Homelessness

The importance of developing gender-sensitive policy responses to women’s
homelessness has emerged in recent literature on homelessness. To achieve
this, policy responses must recognise the diverse and complex needs of all
homeless women, including those accompanied or unaccompanied by their
children. This paper reviews some of the key literature on homelessness to
ascertain the extent to which gender is recognised in explanations of
homelessness. What emerges is that current frameworks fail to recognise the
depth of inequalities experienced by homeless mothers who are unaccompanied by their children. This leads to the stigmatising of this group as ‘bad’ mothers. This paper recognises the importance of the affective domain as a key site for understanding and analysing the multiple inequalities that shape women’s experiences of homelessness. It suggests that inserting the affective domain into approaches for understanding home and homelessness will go some way to ensuring that definitions of homelessness ‘avoid the stigmatisation of homeless people’ (Edgar 2009, p.13) and towards enabling the conditions for equality-based outcomes for all women.