Gender and Land Rights Database


Prevailing systems of land tenure

Women appear to have benefited less than men from the privatisation of state-ownership. This is largely because the assets (including livestock and equipment) distributed as part of the privatisation process were registered in the name of the head of household who were men in 90 percent of cases. There have been cases of women herders, head of household with young children receiving less than their share from the distribution resulting in increased poverty (10).

The Law of Mongolia on Land, 2002 identifies three main types of tenure

  • Ownership

- According to Article 3.1.2, "to own land" means to be in legitimate control of land with the right to dispose of this land

- Article 5.1. Any land other than that given into ownership by citizens of Mongolia shall be the property of the government.

- Article 5.2. Land, excluding pastureland, land for common tenure land and land for special government use, may be given into ownership to citizens of Mongolia only.

  • Possession

- According to Article 3.1.3, "to possess land" means to be in legitimate control of land in accordance with purpose of its use and terms and conditions specified in respective contracts

- Article 27.1. State owned land shall be given for possession for the purpose, and according to term and conditions stipulated in this Law, on the basis of a contract. Land may be given for possession only by a license.

- Articles 27.2, 27.4 and 30.1: Possession of land is subject to issuance of a valid license, given only to Mongolian citizens, companies and organizations as well as entities with foreign investment. This possession is given for duration of 15 to 60 years which can be extended for no longer than 40 years at a time.

- Article 30.2: In the event of death or announcement of death of the possessor of land or if the land possessor is announced as missing, the legitimate heir, if he/she wishes, may transfer the land possession license to register himself/herself, and may possess that land until the original expiration date of the license.

  • Use

- According to Article 3.1.4, "to use land" means to undertake a legitimate and concrete activity to make use of some of the land's characteristics in accordance with contracts made with owners and possessors of land

- According to Article 6.2, the following types of land, regardless of whether they are given into possession or use, shall be used for common purpose under government regulation:

> pasturelands, water points in pasturelands, wells and salt licks

> public tenure lands in cities, villages and other urban settlements

> land under roads and networks

> lands with forest resources

> lands with water resources

According to Article 6.3, foreign countries, international organizations, foreign legal entities, foreign citizens and stateless persons may become users of land for a specific purpose and a specific time period subject to contract conditions and in compliance with the law.

- Article 11.1: Agricultural land includes pastureland, hayfields, crop lands, lands for cultivation of fruits and berries, fallow lands, lands under agricultural constructions and other land for agricultural production.


The special case of pastureland:

Under the land law, pastureland can only be possessed collectively, private ownership of pasture land being constitutionally prohibited.

Article 54 of the land law defines responsibilities of local authorities in the preservation and use of pastureland. It requires that soum and aimag governors, in cooperation with relevant professional organisations and taking into consideration land use traditions, rational land use and conservation requirements, carry out land management activities to ensure the preservation and rational use of national pastureland (13).

The “open access” regime to Mongolia’s pastureland, codified in the 1994 Land law resulted in overgrazing in the most fertile areas as there were no limits on access to land (13). Allocation of pasture land to herder communities is increasingly seen as a remedy to overgrazing (14).

In 2010 the Mongolian Parliament prepared a proposal for a new legislation on pastureland uses. Concerns have been raised that this draft legislation relies on top-down approaches with an emphasis on strengthening of state organisations and their activities and does not adequately address the weaknesses of the framework for pastureland (16).

National and local institutions enforcing land regulations

Decentralisation of land administration services is effected through the local branches of the Registration Office.

Article 7: Organizational structure of the Registration Office

1. The Registration Office shall have local branches for the registration of immovable property.

2. The Government shall approve the rules of the Registration Office and procedures for the work of the State Registrar.

3. The registration of immovable property shall be carried out by the State Registrar. The State Registrar shall have an Assistant Registrar.

4. The Registration Office may have a division whose functions are to control the cadastral measurement and land valuation.

Registration of immovable property

Article 9: Application for the registration of immovable property

1. Citizens of Mongolia, legal persons and/or their legal representatives shall submit an application for the registration of immovable property (hereinafter referred to as the "Application") to the Registration Office at the place where the immovable property is located.

Settlement of Land-Related Disputes

- Article 63.1: The following [types of] land related disputes shall be settled by the following organizations and officials:

- Article 63.1.1: disputes over the State owned land related to its possession and use between citizens, companies or organizations and governors shall be settled by a governor of the higher level;

- Article 63.1.2: disputes between citizens, companies and organizations regarding land use and possession, as well as disputes between land possessors and users regarding contract terms and conditions of land use shall be settled by the governor of the corresponding level;

- Article 63.1.3: disputes on land characteristics and quality, efficient and rational land use or land protection shall be settled in accordance with legislation by an official in charge of inspection of an appropriate professional organization or the governor of the corresponding level;

- Article 63.1.4: disputes over limited use rights for land possessed or used by others as well as over property disputes related to the land shall be settled by the court.

- Article 63.2: If citizens, companies or organizations disagree with the decision on land disputes made by the authority or the official referred to in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of provision 1 of this article, the dispute shall be settled either by the authority or the official of a higher level, or the court.

- Article 63.3: If not dealt with in contracts, disputes related to land use by companies with foreign investment shall be settled in accordance with procedures set forth in this article. 

Land administration institutions and women quotas

The National Programme on Gender Equality, 2002 recognised that the lack of female participation and representation in decision-making is an area of critical concern.

Output 14.2 aimed to increase women’s participation in all levels of civil service management, which could include land administration services but these are not specifically targeted in the programme.

The programme also required a review of the existing legislation and to make amendments if necessary in order to ensure equal access of women and men to the full range of public appointments. It proposed to monitor and evaluate progress in the representation of women through regular collection, analysis of data and establish a viable monitoring mechanism in this field within governmental structures.

Despite this programme on gender equality, the CEDAW Committee in its 2008 report urged Mongolia to undertake awareness-raising campaigns about the importance of women’s participation in decision-making for society as a whole, including in the public and private sectors. The Committee requested detailed information and statistical data on women’s representation, particularly in decision-making positions, in various areas of public life, including in law enforcement, the judiciary and the diplomatic service. It further urged the country to make use of temporary special measures, including through setting up quotas, to accelerate the representation of women at all levels and spheres of politics, especially in decision-making positions (7).

Funding provisions to guarantee women’s land transactions

The Law of Mongolia on Promotion of Gender Equality, 2009 guarantees equal rights in the economic sphere. First, Article 9.1 recognises the equal right of all citizens, regardless of their sex, to establish and register an economic entity and to engage in economic and professional activities. Second, under Article 9.2, central and local government agencies, bodies of local self-government, economic entities and organizations of all forms of ownership, have the duty to ensure for men and women an equal access on equal terms to land and other immovable and movable property, budget allocations, financial assets, credit, other economic wealth and resources.

Access to credit services across Mongolia’s rural areas is difficult in terms of transaction costs, a difficulty which is currently being addressed through the use of mobile banking services. Accessibility has been and will remain a particular challenge for Mongolia, which has one of the most dispersed rural populations in the world, with a rural population density of just 2 people per km (15).

Other factors influencing gender differentiated land rights

- It is estimated that the number of female-headed households increased from 10 per cent in 1998 to 15 per cent in 2008. These households are generally more vulnerable to poverty. Due to the unpaid care work that they often do, female head of households are prevented from undertaking employment and this is particularly notable in rural and remote areas where access to child care is not always available (12).

- Environmental degradation is increasing pressure on land

- Lack of sex-disaggregated data and information on the de facto position of rural women.

- Unemployment and poverty: the persistence of direct and indirect discriminatory practices against women in public and private employment with respect to recruitment, equal pay for work of equal value and maternity protection, as well as sexual harassment. The CEDAW Committee urged Mongolia to ensure that all employment-generation programmes are gender sensitive and that women fully benefit from all planned programmes to support entrepreneurship, including through vocational training, favourable credit conditions and income-generation opportunities. The Committee also called upon Mongolia to enact legislation prohibiting sexual harassment. (7)

The high incidence of poverty among women and especially among rural women and households headed by women is an issue of concern, particularly in a country undergoing rapid economic growth. 

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography