Female rights group Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights) has urged the government and lawmakers to ensure that women get equal opportunities in land ownership.
They demanded that a draft bill on land, which is currently being formulated by the government, allow both husbands and wives to own land through land certificates that list the names of both spouses.
Dinda Nuur Annisaa Yura of Solidaritas Perempuan said the country’s patriarchal society had made it difficult for women to own land.
“Many families therefore list their properties under the name of the husband since they are the ones who earn money for a living,” Dinda said recently.
“But I think this isn’t fair because the wives also have the right to own the properties because of their dedication and role in the family.”
The latest data from the National Land Agency (BPN) shows that only around 15 percent of 44 million plots of land in the country are owned by women — a statistic that Solidaritas Perempuan says is a reflection of how women lack recognition in society.
In Barati village, Central Sulawesi, for example, the ratio of men who own land to women is to 9 to 1, while in Seri Bandung village, South Sumatra, it is 8.43 to 1.57.
The country has recognized women’s right to land management since the enactment of the 1960 Agrarian Law, which stipulates that “all citizens, both men and women, have the same opportunities in terms of land rights and gaining benefits from exercising such rights”.
However, as the law does not detail a mechanism for women in the land acquisition process, activists say that women in the land sector have been relegated to second-class citizens.
The idea to introduce a new law on land management that complements the Agrarian Law was first considered during the leadership of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Progress toward the idea gained ground after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took office in 2014, especially after he laid out an ambitious agrarian reform agenda.
But activists say the government has yet to properly address gender equality in land ownership to date.
Solidaritas Perempuan, which has been following the deliberation process for years, requested a meeting with representatives from the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry and the House’s Commission II overseeing agrarian affairs last week.
In the meeting, the House and the government promised to include provisions on women’s land ownership rights in the draft bill.
John Sar, an expert staff member at the House, said a new law was needed to complement the Agrarian Law.
“The social context from when the Agrarian Law was enacted is different from today. It needs some adjustments.”
Meanwhile the ministry’s spokesperson, Yagus Suyadi said, “We, the ministry, will fight for the rights of women and wives […] and for the inclusion of their names in land certificates.”
In his attempt to speed up the formulation process, which has been delayed because of several contentious issues, such as land management in industrial timber estates (HTIs), Jokowi held a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the progress of the plan.
Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said the President wanted a comprehensive draft bill “to improve justice in the land sector”.
Solidaritas Perempuan, however, is waiting for tangible outcomes.
“We will definitely push for [the inclusion of a comprehensive plan on women’s land ownership rights] till the end,” Dinda said.