Hebei Political Advisor Urges Better Protection of Women's Land Rights

February 9, 2015
Editor: Sophie Shi

Women's land rights should be protected by taking administrative, legal and educational measures during the pilot land registration in rural areas, suggested a political advisor from north China's Hebei Province.

Wang Dongmei, President of Hebei Women's Federation, brought her motion on this issue to the third session of the Hebei Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on January 7, 2015.

Hebei is one of China's most agricultural provinces. In recent years, there have been collective and radical appeals initiated by rural women who suffer from infringement of land rights. According to statistics, from 2012 to 2014, petition events related to the infringement of rural women's rights accounted for 51.2 percent to 54.1 percent of all property rights and interests–related petitions received by the women's federations across the province.

Wang, also vice president of the Hebei Province Women's Federation, suggests taking administrative measures to make sure that women's land rights are not only registered but also upheld.

She also advocates to have women's federations involved in the steering group of contractual land management and ownership rights and to take part in formulating, implementing and supervising the registration plan.

By December 2014, women's federations in Cangzhou, Hengshui, Tangshan, Baoding, Xinji, and Dingzhou have joined in the steering group to take part in formulating, implementing and supervising the plan of the registration. In Tangshan, the women's federation takes on the responsibility of the steering group without setting up a new one.

In China, urban land is owned by the state and rural land is normally under collective ownership.

While gradual reforms since the 1980s saw the trading of urban land evolve into a vigorous property market, land in the countryside remain largely static as farmers mostly have rights to use, but cannot directly trade or mortgage them.

To allow the gradual transfer of rural land-use rights, the first step would be the registration and confirmation of the rights, without which an orderly market cannot function.
China has started the pilot registration program in 2008.

Defining the role of women as contractors or co-owners in the registration of contractual land management rights is not only an effective way to entitle women to have equal contractual land management rights as men but also a realistic way to protect women's land rights from the source.

In the current pilot registration of contractual land management and ownership rights, the women's federation pays high attention to protecting the land rights of rural women.

Wang also maintains that in every step of registration, the names of women should display on the registry and certificate of contractual land management and ownership rights in order to ensure the implementation of women's interests and that the grassroots government and commission of rural affairs should set up a steering group for women who do not have contracted land, who are married, widowed or divorced and to put forward different solutions for different situations. Relevant departments should try to distribute land for those with land rights, to confirm the land rights of those for whom land is not available, and to give allowances to those who can neither have land nor land rights. All the measures are taken to ensure the interest of women who do have but should have land or contractual rights thereof.

In fact, conventional rules and laws have always been an excuse and origin of the infringement of women's land rights and interests. To tackle the problem, Wang suggests the following:

Led by people's congress and political consultative conference, the civil administration, women's federation and commission of rural affairs are supposed to jointly monitor and maintain the rules and laws in rural areas: Rules that violate the basic policy of gender equality, the constitution, and relevant rules will be corrected and revised. Also, she suggests the building of a system of active law review as well as an application system of administrative review and justice review. In addition, the justice departments should pay greater attention to and strengthen the assistance for women's land rights disputes.

In 2010, the Hebei Intermediate People's Court launched Guidance on Hearing Dispute Cases about Distribution of Income in Villages' Collective Economic Organizations. It aims to bring rural rules and laws into justice and to protect women's land rights. In light of the intermediate people's court launching a review system for the conventional rules and laws in villages, Wang suggests that the provincial court pay attention to the document released by the Hebei Intermediate People's Court and carry out research on this front in order to spread the practice to the whole province or put forward relevant opinions when the time comes.

(Source: China Women's News /Translated and edited by Women of China)

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