The Role of Land Tenure Security in Promoting Rural Women’s Empowerment: Empirical Evidence from Rural China

Citation:

Han, Wenjing, Xiaoling Zhang, and Zhengfeng Zhang. 2019. “The Role of Land Tenure Security in Promoting Rural Women’s Empowerment: Empirical Evidence from Rural China.” Land Use Policy 86 (July): 280–89. 

Authors: Wenjing Han, Xiaoling Zhang, Zhengfeng Zhang

Abstract:

The empirical evidence from developing countries suggests that land tenure equity can be regarded as a means of promoting development by empowering women. Despite current prime laws and regulations having provided the basis for rural women to enjoy equal land rights, village rules and regulations and various informal customs have adversely affected their land tenure security under the unique villagers’ autonomy political system in rural China. Chinese rural women land tenure is therefore subject to considerable discrimination and is highly insecure due to the greater risks involved compared to those faced by men. Being entitled to land ownership does not mean women’s land tenure is secure, an issue that has received little attention to date. Accordingly, this paper aims to empirically examine whether women’s tenure security, legal tenure security, de facto tenure security, or economic tenure security can provide a means of improving their level of autonomy in household decision-making (used to characterize women's empowerment) in such areas as house purchases, durable goods purchases, daily necessities purchases, fertility choice, medicalcare choice, job choice, and social interaction choice. Using 2017 survey data (6073 samples) obtained for 28 provinces of rural China and employing the Tobit model for the analysis, we find that the formal title certificate is a prerequisite for realizing legal land tenure security; the risk of land expropriation and tenure disputes exacerbates the insecurity of land tenure at the de facto level; and that access to land circulation income can enhance land economic tenure security and has a significantly positive effect on women’s empowerment. Moreover, we highlight the potential adverse effects of rapid urbanization on rural women’s empowerment, which might further widen the rural gender gap. Our study indicates that policies enhancing land tenure security have the potential to increase women’s empowerment and associated beneficial welfare effects on the development of women’s rights, family, the rural economy, and also contributes to narrowing the gender opportunity gap within households.

Keywords: land tenure security, women's empowerment, Rural China

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 2019

© 2021 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.