Vietnam's Women Farmers Realize Their Land Rights

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Nguyen Thi Nhung at her house in Long An.
Nguyen Thi Nhung at her house in Long An
Legal counseling empowers land owners
“I am so happy that all my sisters have now received the land use right certificates.”

April 2016Nguyen Thi Nhung, 52, is a farmer in the Mekong Delta province of Long An in southern Vietnam. When her father died in 2014, she wanted to give each of her four older sisters part of the farming land. Since she was the only person with a land use right certificate for her parents’ residential and farming land, it was up to Nhung to figure out how to legally give them land access.

“I wanted to share the land with my sisters, but I did not know about required documents and procedures. Nor did I know where to find information,” she said.

Nhung is not alone. Reforms in Vietnam in the late 1990s resulted in meaningful changes in land rights policy, but implementation has been low due to low awareness and lack of resources to enforce women’s property rights at the provincial level.

In 2014, USAID’s Land Access for Women project surveyed couples, local officials and organizations in northern and southern Vietnam. It revealed that women had less information than men on how to access land. For instance, less than 50 percent of women interviewed knew how to obtain a land use right certificate. Lack of knowledge of the law was one important barrier to accessing land for farmers.

To address this problem, the project mobilized and trained nearly 60 community volunteers in gender equality from four communes in Long An and Hung Yen provinces. These volunteers are now proactive in conducting land rights awareness activities. They also provide legal counseling to individuals, mitigate land disputes and offer referrals to help navigate the existing legal structures.

A local resident trained under the project counseled Nhung on Vietnam’s land laws and how to solve her issue. After three sessions, Nhung was able to complete all the required administrative procedures for dividing the land among her siblings.

“Without the help from the volunteer, I wouldn’t have completed the required procedures,” Nhung said. “I am so happy that all my sisters have now received the land use right certificates.”

The two-year Land Access for Women project, which ends in August 2016, is implemented by the International Center for Research on Women and the Institute for Social Development Studies. The project aims to empower farmers, especially women, by enhancing their access to land by increasing their awareness of existing land rights under current legislation. By the end of September 2015, a total of 2,438 legal counseling sessions for 1,502 people (911 women and 591 men) had been delivered by the project-trained volunteers. Of the 688 cases solved with the volunteers’ assistance, 627 cases were decided in favor of their clients.


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