Indigenous female villagers should be granted the same land rights as male villagers to build their own houses, according to the chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission. Speaking on a Cable TV programme yesterday, Anna Wu Hung-yuk criticised the traditional 'small house policy' in the New Territories for discriminating against women, who, she said, should also be given that right. 'It is similar to public housing benefits. It should be a basic right for female villagers to be given small houses like the male villagers. It is impossible to imagine why it could not be,' she said. Under the current policy, an indigenous male villager is entitled to receive government land to build a three-storey villa. Villagers regard this as a traditional right protected by the Basic Law. But Ms Wu argued this was not a traditional right, adding the policy was introduced in the 1970s as part of the Government's strategy to speed up New Territories' development. She said the Basic Law only protected the traditional interests of indigenous residents - those who can trace their male ancestry back to residents of their village in 1898 when Britain took over the New Territories - but this did not include the small-house policy. She admitted, however, the policy was not covered by the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, leaving the commission powerless to act. She urged the Government to amend the law to allow the commission to intervene.