New Study Highlights Barriers to Land Access

Results from a recent research study on land rights were released last week at a workshop in Hanoi. The workshop also introduced the Vietnam Land Access for Women program, through which the survey was conducted in two provinces. The LAW project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS).

Initial findings from the study indicate that women had less information than men on land access. Less than half of the women interviewed knew how to obtain a Land Use Right Certificate, compared to between 50 and 60 percent of men. The survey indicated that lack of knowledge about land laws is one important barrier to farmers’ ability to access land. Women, however, face additional barriers due to traditions that preference men over women with respect to land. The research team found that preference for sons over daughters in inheritance is still prevalent despite the fact that the law mandates that all Vietnamese citizens have equal rights. More importantly, when asked about their perceived ability to solve land-related conflicts, women, more than men, answered that they did not feel they had the ability to solve such conflicts.

In addition, the study found that women and people with low incomes have become more vulnerable as agricultural land is increasingly used for commercial purposes. As younger household members migrate to large cities, women, who stay behind to take of children and the elderly, remain dependent on agricultural land for their livelihoods. This suggests a need to carefully consider the interests of women and low income rural households as land use policies are changed.

The study, carried out in December 2014, surveyed couples from 847 households in Hung Yen and Long An provinces. Commune authorities and members of commune organizations in both provinces were also interviewed.

The Land Access for Women project is working with community volunteers to increase access to land for farmers, especially women. The project, a two-year pilot effort, trains teams of grassroots community volunteers to help farmers, particularly women farmers, in the northern province of Hung Yen and the Mekong Delta province of Long An to improve their understanding of land rights. Workshops to train volunteers to provide commune-level legal rights counseling and education are scheduled for March and April 2015. The project also works with social and mass organizations to advocate for gender-equitable implementation of land regulations.

For more information on the project, click here.