05/16/2014 02:57 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2014

National Women Build Week Highlights the Strength of Women

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This week, more than 13,000 women from across the United States answered the call to help build new communities and picked up hammers to help hundreds of families realize the dream of homeownership during Habitat for Humanity International's seventh annual National Women Build Week. These women, from all walks of life, came together to show that women are a powerful force in helping to address the ongoing need for safe and decent affordable housing.

National Women Build Week is about building homes, building families and so much more. It brings to light the ongoing global problem: the housing crisis facing millions of women and children worldwide. On average, women and children are disproportionally impacted by the effects of poverty housing. Even though women make up slightly more than half of the global population, they are still denied the right of land tenure and property ownership in many parts of the world, making women and children especially vulnerable to situations such as natural disasters and civil unrest. Women understand in a powerful way that housing is at the center of all of our lives. Without a safe and decent affordable home, we cannot nurture, educate, protect and develop our children and our families. As long as there is even one child without a safe and decent home, our world will never be great. We can and must solve this problem.

The question we must all ask ourselves is: How do we, as a global community, address the vast inequality when it comes to women and housing? While it may seem like an insurmountable task, we have the collective power of grassroots advocacy and history on our side. It was through grassroots advocacy that the American civil rights movement began and continues, opening the way for African-Americans and other minorities to enjoy the same rights and privileges as every American citizen. It was through grassroots advocacy that women like Susan B. Anthony had the courage to stand up for the voting rights of all people, regardless of gender. Through grassroots advocacy, we all can and should stand up for women around the world who are unable to find a decent place to call home simply because of their gender. By speaking with one voice and in one accord, we can and will generate lasting and positive change throughout the world and have a profound impact on the lives of those individuals with the greatest need.

Habitat for Humanity International created its Women Build program as a platform to inspire more women to take part in addressing the need for affordable housing locally by volunteering on women-led builds. From its modest beginnings in 1998, Women Build quickly expanded to encompass building events around the globe. Teams of Women Build volunteers travel worldwide on Habitat Global Village trips to help families realize the dream of a safe, decent home. Each year, more than 30,000 women take part in Women Build events globally. Since the program began, more than 2,200 Women Build houses have been built by all-women construction crews.

While National Women Build Week is winding down for 2014, I encourage women everywhere to contact your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to find out more on how to participate in local Women Build events throughout the year. Only through the hard work and dedication of all people, regardless of gender, race, religion or background, can we one day see Habitat's mission of creating a world where everyone has a decent place to live become a reality.