History of Women Build

History of the Women Build program

1991

A group of women in Charlotte, N.C., complete the first women-built Habitat for Humanity house. With this event, the seeds for Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program are planted. A handful of Habitat for Humanity affiliates continue to build houses with women crews.

1997

As part of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton, Kentucky first lady Libby Jones and Oklahoma first lady Cathy Keating participate in a Women Build. The idea for Habitat’s First Ladies Build is born.

1998

Habitat for Humanity International forms the Women Build department and the Women Build program becomes an official HFHI initiative.

1999–2001

The Women Build department hosts the First Ladies Build. Women governors and first ladies from all 50 states join Habitat for Humanity to build houses with families in need.

2003

Lowe’s signs on as Women Build’s underwriter. Home Interiors and Gifts, Inc. becomes Women Build’s major sponsor. Since 2003, the program has more than doubled in size.

2006–2007

Women Build’s “First Families Building Homes Across America” unites women volunteers with governors’ spouses, local and statewide leaders to construct Habitat homes in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. Fifty-two homes are built throughout the country.

20082018

Lowe’s sponsors National Women Build Week, held in the days leading up to Mother’s Day. In the inaugural year, about 6,000 women volunteers participate at more than 150 Habitat affiliates across the United States. National Women Build Week expands and gains momentum and by 2018, a record of more than 130,000 volunteers impact more than 5,000 in combined annual national events.

2019–2021

The program continued to grow across international borders, empowering women everywhere to address poverty housing for themselves, their families and their neighbors. In partnership with Lowe’s, Habitat for Humanity’s International Women Build Week was created as an annual weeklong event starting on International Women’s Day.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Habitat went virtual for International Women Build Week 2021. More than 300 Habitat locations in the U.S., Canada and India organized ways for volunteers to get involved virtually to support our mission to raise awareness of the challenges women face in accessing safe, affordable housing. 

Women Build

Since 1991, Women Build volunteers from all walks of life have come together to build stronger, safer communities.

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