The Bahamas Commits To Achieving Full Equality For Women & Men In Constitution
The Bahamas could be first to reform nationality law since launch of Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights
New York, March 16, 2015
The Bahamas Minister of Social Service and Community Development Melanie Griffin strongly stated that the government is “committed to achieving full equality in our Constitution for men and women,” specifically gender equal nationality laws. Minister Griffin made these statements at the March 10 High Level Event on Equal Nationality Rights, which took place during the first week of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at UN headquarters in New York. During this annual two week session, UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather to review progress made on achieving gender equality. This year’s CSW gave special attention to countries’ progress on the Beijing Platform for Action, in which governments across the globe committed to eradicating gender discrimination from all laws.
This High Level Event included statements by Cabinet Ministers from Algeria, Australia, Indonesia, Portugal, the United States, and Tunisia, all of whom stressed the importance of governments meeting their international commitments to ensure equal nationality rights for women. Algeria and Indonesia also shared their recent paths to reform, with both countries now granting women and men full equality in their nationality laws.
Minister Griffin’s statement included a commitment to a robust public education campaign by the Constitutional Commission. The public education campaign will be followed by a public referendum to amend the Constitution of The Bahamas to enshrine equal nationality rights for women and men and make it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of sex.
Minister Griffin affirmed, “We are committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to meeting our international human rights obligations.”
This public commitment to fully support the reform process is welcomed by the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights – an international initiative launched by a global network of NGOs, UNHCR, and UN Women to end gender discrimination in nationality laws worldwide.
“The Global Campaign is very pleased that the government of The Bahamas is committed to the public education and outreach needed to ensure support for these key reforms for gender equality. We know that through a strong public education campaign by the government, the people of The Bahamas will support this important step to achieve full equality for all citizens of the Commonwealth. Reform in The Bahamas would be a significant step towards ending gender discriminatory nationality laws worldwide, and could result in the eradication of gender discriminatory nationality laws in the Western Hemisphere.” - Catherine Harrington, Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights Campaign Manager
With strong support by both the ruling and opposition party, The Bahamas is poised to be the first country to enact reforms for women’s equal nationality rights since the launch of the Global Campaign. The Bahamas remains one of two countries in the Western Hemisphere that denies women equal rights to pass nationality to their children, and one of three countries in the Western Hemisphere to deny women equal rights to pass nationality to foreign spouses. Importantly, reforms in The Bahamas could lead to the eradication in the Western Hemisphere of laws denying women equal rights to pass nationality to children. Barbados, which also denies women equal nationality rights in its Constitution, previously committed to reforms and reaffirmed its commitment to gender equal nationality laws at the March 10 event.
The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights is a coalition of international and national organizations that promotes gender equality in nationality laws, so that women and men can confer, acquire, change and retain their nationality on an equal basis. The Campaign includes a Steering Committee of Equality Now, Equal Rights Trust, the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, UNHCR, UN Women and Women’s Refugee Commission. equalnationalityrights.org