The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has recently hosted a consultative conference on “Land policy reform: Social and gender issues” in Hanoi. According to experts, women now do not have equal opportunities of land access to men.
Ms Nguyen Thi Phuong Cham, representative for research team, said: “Families in big cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang has the smallest average land area. In provinces in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta, families often own more than one piece of land and remaining land plots are usually gardens, farmland and fishing farms. In all surveyed areas, men have more extensive social networks than women.
According to the study, the proportion of women named to own land is lower less than men and the proportion in rural areas is lower than in urban areas. The proportion of city families with shared names to the ownership rights of the land is greater than that in rural areas. The sharing of decision-making rights to land transactions is more popular in cities. In any relationship, decision-making roles of women in rural areas are low.
She said, in theory, Vietnam’s inheritance law guarantees gender equality for men and women. But, in fact, the enactment of this law still exposes some factors that exclude women from access to land.
The law stipulates that parental will is a matter of priority and the orderly inheritance is only applied when the deceased does not leave a will. But, in reality, but the family will do not often take gender equality into account but it relies on traditional factors such as male chauvinism, customary practice, personal circumstances and family continuity.
In fact, according to the research group, in many lawsuit cases, the jury bases on local patterns and practice to make a decision and impose a pattern of divisive equality basing on rational and emotional senses to enact the law and dignify negotiations. Because land laws are typically generic and universal; thus, when it is applied in different contexts, it imperceptibly creates a force to exclude women from benefit enjoyment.
Notably, at present, a difference in power in the relationship between law representatives and people with land queries makes women very difficult to gain access to their benefits.
On the other hand, a lack of knowledge pertaining to administrative procedures, education and language, especially in cases of women from ethnic groups, were interconnected, preventing them from utilising legal and law implementation services to assist them in their claims.
Cham said efforts of the State and media to promote gender equality like regulating husband and wife to place their names of on the certificate of land use rights, educative and propagandising activities, enhancing the awareness of gender equality, the diversity of media and information channels have increased women’s equitable access to land.
However, to achieve greater equality, Vietnam needs to strengthen effective communication by renovating propagating methods and contents. Besides, it should take into account customs, gender, social relations and local characteristics in instructive documents.
In addition, according to Mr Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, Director of Centre for Agricultural Policy Consultancy under the Institute of Agricultural Rural Development Policies and Strategies, land is a special property only utilised and exploited effectively by long-term stable investment and management from generation to generation. Vietnam needs to terminate the sacrifice of rural agricultural land to serve industrialisation and urbanisation and it should balance the development amongst sectors and regions based on comparative advantage, maximise the linkage among sectors and regions to enhance national competitiveness, stretch industrialisation and urbanisation to the countryside, and boost investment for rural agriculture.