A workshop on protecting women's land rights [File Photo]
Up to now, more than 80 percent of villages in east China's Shandong Province have added a column for "common proprietor" to villagers' land right confirmation certificates, allowing many women to be legally identified on the land contractual management documents.
Shandong Province brought its confirmation and registration of rural land contractual management rights almost to a close, according to an official workshop report in early December.
In Shandong, rural women account for over 65 percent of the total labor force in agriculture. In December 2014, the steering group on the confirmation and registration of rural land contractual management rights issued a notice on safeguarding women's rights and interests. All administrative cities, counties and towns were instructed to have the names of female family members written on their land right confirmation certificates and registration books without exception.
To accelerate the process of adding a "common proprietor" column to certificates, the Shandong Women's Federation has exercised special supervision of the process in Yantai, Tai'an, Weihai, Dezhou, Liaocheng, Linyi and some other cities in the region. They also reported on the insertion of the name columns every month.
An official from the rights and interests department of the women's federation said that adding women's names on their families' land right confirmation certificates constitutes an important milestone in protecting women's land rights and interests within the whole province.
Most importantly, it will mean women have the equal right to be informed and to make decisions about the contracted land, said the official. Women are the major force in agricultural production, so recognizing them on official documents will help them participate in making decisions involving property rights, such as land transfer. It will also make it possible for them to carry out land use rights circulation and take out mortgages on behalf of their families.
Meanwhile, heads of households will also be prevented from arbitrarily disposing of their contracted plots and damaging the interests of other family members.
Women can also claim their rights in the event of any change in marital status. If their families break up, they have the right to their own share of land.
Shandong's measure is conducive to promoting gender equality and gender mainstreaming as well as improving women's position in rural community governance. In this way the unequal customs in marriage and family property distribution will gradually be changed, officials said.
However, in some villages in Shandong, land right confirmation work faces difficulties due to the weak leadership of local village committees and long-standing land disputes. More work still needs to be done and the Shandong Women's Federation will help coordinate and make every effort to accelerate the work, officials concluded.
(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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