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Women's Rights to House and Land: China, Laos, and Vietnam

Irene Tinker and Gale Summerfield, editors
ISBN: 978-1-55587-817-7
1999/305 pages/LC: 99-26774

"Provides rich institutional detail about how a shift to a market orientation is shaped by culture, the gender division of labor, and the legal system."—Stephanie Seguino, Review of Social Economy

"Brings together hard-to-get materials on an important area of the globe currently undergoing massive changes."—Weizhen Dong and Janet W. Salaff, China Quarterly


Gender disparities frequently accompany rapid socioeconomic change, as cultural traditions that protected women—even as they constrained them—collapse in the face of development reforms. This collaborative volume, involving both Asian and U.S. scholars, explores the impact of changes in women’s rights to housing and land in three socialist countries that are moving toward market economies.

The authors focus on such issues as property use and ownership, efforts to recognize women’s economic rights through development programming, poverty and women-headed households, and household bargaining. The final chapter surveys the impact of various development policies, highlighting successes and failures.


Irene Tinker is professor emerita of women’s studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her numerous publications include Street Foods: Urban Food and Employment in Developing Countries. Gale Summerfield is director of the office of Women in International Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is editor (with Jiaying Zhuang Howard) of Women and Economic Transition in China.


  • Introduction—the Editors.
  • Women’s Empowerment Through Rights to House and Land—I. Tinker.
  • Economic Development, Housing, and the Family: Is the Singapore Approach an Appropriate Model?—J.L. Pyle.
  • Women Influencing Housing in Ho Chi Minh City—T.T.N. Du.
  • Women’s Access to Housing in Hanoi—H.T. Lich.
  • Women and Rural Land in Vietnam—T.T.V. Anh.
  • Cultivating the Forest: Gendered Land Use Among the Tay in Northern Vietnam—C. Ireson-Doolittle and W.R. Ireson.
  • New Land Rights and Women's Access to Medicinal Plants in Northern Vietnam—J. Sowerwine.
  • LAOS.
  • Gender and Changing Property Rights in Laos—C. Ireson-Doolittle.
  • Reforming Property Rights in Laos—M. Viravong.
  • CHINA.
  • Chinese Women’s Housing Rights: An International Legal Perspective—D. Warren.
  • Housing Reform in Urban China—G. Summerfield and N. Aslanbeigui.
  • The Impacts of Shanghai Housing Reform—J. Fei.
  • State and Market Provision of Housing in Shanghai—B. Hopkins.
  • The Housing Situation for Women in Beijing—Z. Wei and X. Bu.
  • Changes in Housing Patterns for Rural Chinese Women—W. Li.
  • Changing Land and Housing Use by Rural Women in Northern China—Z. Li.
  • CONCLUSION—the Editors.