Ensuring Poor Rural Women Benefit from Forestland Reform in China: Summary of Field Research and Policy Recommendations
China has surpassed other emerging economies in creating a gender sensitive legal framework for land rights. While China's constitution grants broad equal rights to women in all spheres of life, the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women, the Land Contracting Law and the Land Management Law provide specific protections for women’s contracted land rights. In 2008, the central government initiated a new policy, which, inter alia, extended household use rights to a term of 70 years. This policy aims to clarify and secure farmer households’ rights to access, manage and benefit from, collective forestland, but does not account for gender differences or contain specific provisions for the rights of women. To better understand the problems that women continue to face on the ground, and to formulate tailor-made recommendations for the Chinese government, Landesa conducted research on the gendered impact of China’s recent forestland reform. A desk study was complemented by field research conducted from July to September 2011 in three of China’s most heavily forested provinces: Hunan, Fujian and Yunnan. In each province, 10 randomly selected villages were visited. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were conducted with 72 local people, including female and male villagers, village committee leaders, local officials of the forestry department, and forestry company staff, to understand the status of forestland reforms at the local level and their impacts on women.