Danida Supports Women’s Equal Access to Land in Vietnam

Starting from November 2006, the aid project will run through a period of 30 months, tackling one of the key issues concerning women’s equal role and right in the society; namely the access to land and houses in the rural areas. The five million DKK from Danida – issued through the Danish Embassy in Hanoi – will assist the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MONRE) to issue the so-called modified land use right certificates (LCs), which will include the names of the both spouses in a household on the deeds, giving the women the same level of legal rights as the men, should any problems arise concerning the access and ownership of the land.

Seven Provinces Selected
The seven provinces selected for this project are Dien Bien, Lao Cai, Nghe An, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Tra Vinh, and Ca Mau.
     “Each province has been selected based on Danida’s development priorities, because they have 1) a high percentage of poor people; 2) a high percentage of ethnic minorities; 3) a high percentage of one-name LCs; and 4) a willingness and interest from the local authorities to participate in the project,” the Danish Embassy states in an official announcement about the project.

Boosting the Gender Equality
Prior to the issuing of modified LCs, the project will carry out awareness raising campaigns on gender equality and the importance of having two-name LCs.
     “This activity is very important because, in poor areas, people – including women as well – do not fully recognize the importance of having two-name LCs. They only acknowledge problems when they actually happen. Such campaigns will not only facilitate the issuing of modified LCs, but also help raise awareness among the people – including men, women, and the local authority people – on gender equality in general and its impacts,” announces the Danish Embassy in Hanoi.
The embassy expects the project to provide modified LCs for “hundreds of thousands of households” in the seven selected provinces and that it will thereby “increase the women’s role and decision-making power in production and family.”

Accepts Beating in Fear of Being Thrown Out the Door
Land and houses are valuable assets in Vietnam, where agricultural production is still one of the main incomes for a majority of the population. Prior to 1986, land used to be collective property under the state’s possession. Since the issuing of the Land Law in 1993, the Vietnamese agriculture has rapidly transformed itself from a state-managed, collective endeavor to a market-oriented household-based system.
     Land was allocated to households, giving them the right to decide how and what to cultivate. However, according to the Land Law, LCs were only issued in the name of the household head, who – in practice – are predominantly men. This has created a lot of legal problems for the women, who cannot use the LCs as assets to mortgage, thus being unable to borrow money from the official credit institutions.
     The set-up with one-name LCs is also one of the reasons why many women accept being subjected to domestic violence rather than getting divorced. The fear of being driven out of the house and having no assets and land for production seem more scary to them than staying with a violent husband. In addition, when the husband dies, the land of his household may be claimed by his family, because it is issued in their son’s name.

For more information about Denmark’s development activities in Vietnam, go to the official website of the Danish Embassy in Hanoi: www.ambhanoi.um.dk

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