During the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), 107 countries* co-sponsored a new HRC Resolution, "The Right to a Nationality: Women's Equal Nationality Rights in Law and Practice (images/zdocs/HRC-Resolution-The-Right-to-a-Nationality---Womens-Equal-Nationality-Rights-in-Law-and-Practice.pdf)," which calls on all governments to ensure gender equal nationality rights and urges reform in countries maintaining gender-discriminatory nationality laws in violation of countries' obligations under international law. Adopted by the HRC on June 30, 2016, the resolution builds on the 2012 resolution, The Right to a Nationality: Women and Children, includes stronger gender equality language, and calls for women’s equal ability to confer to children and spouses (spousal conferral was not highlighted in the previous resolution). It is hoped that the new resolution will be leveraged by women's rights activists in countries maintaining discriminatory nationality laws (the-issue/the-problem) to support reform efforts. Also during the June Session, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights organized the HRC side event, "Women’s Equal Nationality Rights in Law and Practice," which was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States and, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Children's Fund, UN Women, and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion. Held at the Palais des Nations, the event was well-attended by Member States, UN staff and civil society. U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council, H.E. Ambassador Keith M. Harper, opened the event, stressing women’s equal nationality rights as fundamental to states' responsibility to uphold non-discrimination on the basis of sex and in the best interest of countries’ development and security. Following Ambassador Harper, Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights Manager Catherine Harrington provided an overview of the status of gender-discriminatory nationality laws worldwide, the human rights violations resulting from these laws (the-issue/the-problem), the relevance of international human rights conventions, and recent momentum for reform. Harrington also stressed the connection between these laws and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emphasizing that nine out of the seventeen SDGs are negatively impacted by gender discrimination in nationality laws. The Permanent Representative of Algeria, H.E. Ambassador Boudjemâa Delmi shared Algeria’s path to reform and the many benefits to individuals, families and society-at-large. Madagascar’s Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Mr. Solofo Andrianjatovo Razafitrimo, then discussed his country’s ongoing reform efforts, including a bill presently being drafted in order to ensure Malagasy women’s equal right to confer nationality to children. Following the panel there was an active discussion with the audience, with a number of Member States expressing their support for achieving gender equal nationality rights. Of particular note, Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Her Excellency Ms. Yvette Stevens, affirmed her country’s commitment to reform its law to ensure women’s equal nationality rights. *Original sponsors and co-sponsors:(Original sponsors in bold)Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa (on behalf of the States Members of the Group of African States), Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Uruguay, Ukraine, United States of AmericaNote: Individual duplicates in original co-sponsors (Angola and Kenya) have been removed above in view of the African Group co-sponsorship that already includes these States. Main sponsors (core group members) that are members of the African Group – Algeria and Botswana – are nevertheless kept. Group of African States:Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe Additional HRC Member and Observer Co-sponsors:Member: MoroccoObservers: Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Greece, Guatemala, Japan, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Sri Lanka Save Save Save Save Save Save Save
254 NGOs call on Member States to address gender discrimination in nationality laws during WPS Open Debate
In advance of the UN Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security (October 25), the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights joined 253 NGOs from 55 countries in signing the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security's Open Letter (images/zdocs/pdf-CSO-OpenLetter-WPS-OpenDebate-Oct2016.pdf), which calls on Member States to provide an outline of concrete steps taken to reform gender discriminatory nationality laws, where relevant, in addition to other key actions needed to advance the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda. The Security Council has noted the link between gender discriminatory nationality laws and the exacerbated vulnerability of women fleeing conflict on a number of occasions, including in UN Security Council Resolution 2122 (http://www.unwomen.org/en/docs/2013/10/un-security-council-resolution-2122) (2013) and subsequent Open Debates on WPS and the Protection of Civilians in Conflict. When families from countries with gender-discriminatory nationality laws are forced to flee conflict areas, the portion of the population harmed by these laws can increase exponentially. In contexts of displacement, where fathers are often separated from their families, discriminatory nationality laws increase the risk that children born to refugee women will be rendered stateless. Today, with the greatest displacement since World War II, forced displacement and migration from countries with gender-discriminatory nationality laws threatens to create a new generation of stateless children. In addition to the increased number of families harmed by gender-discriminatory nationality laws in contexts of displacement, these laws cause already vulnerable populations of refugees, internally displaced persons, and persons living in conflict contexts to be even more insecure (the-issue/the-problem).
Photo source: https://www.bahamas.gov.bsThe Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights is deeply disappointed by the failure of the public referendum in The Bahamas on June 7, which sought to end discrimination on the basis of sex and enshrine the principle of equality between women and men in the Bahamian Constitution. Three of the four bills included in the referendum sought to ensure that Bahamian women and men are treated equally in their ability to confer nationality to children and spouses. Due to the referendum’s failure, The Bahamas remains one of only twenty-seven countries worldwide – one of two in the Western Hemisphere – that denies mothers the right to confer nationality to their children on an equal basis with men. The Bahamas will also now continue to deny unmarried fathers the ability to confer nationality to their children. Because of this, today children born abroad to Bahamian women or unmarried Bahamian men continue to be at risk of being stateless – whereby no country considers them citizens – while families and spouses may be torn apart because Bahamian women are denied the ability to confer nationality to spouses, a right reserved only for Bahamian men. The injustices embedded in the current Constitution are clear examples of gender-based discrimination. The perpetuation of this discrimination means that The Bahamas – like too many countries across the globe – remains in violation of its commitments under international law to ensure equality between women and men. We applaud the efforts by many Bahamians, including Citizens for Constitutional Equality and government leaders, to address this discrimination. The failure of the referendum only serves to highlight the significant attention and hard work required in The Bahamas and worldwide to achieve gender equality. The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and our coalition members around the world, including in The Bahamas, remain dedicated to working for legal reforms to end gender discrimination in nationality laws. We call on the international community – government, organizations, and individuals – to join us in advocating for equal nationality rights for equal citizens, women and men. Save
Photo source: https://www.bahamas.gov.bsThe Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights is deeply disappointed by the failure of the public referendum in The Bahamas on June 7, which sought to end discrimination on the basis of sex and enshrine the principle of equality between women and men in the Bahamian Constitution. Three of the four bills included in the referendum sought to ensure that Bahamian women and men are treated equally in their ability to confer nationality to children and spouses. Due to the referendum’s failure, The Bahamas remains one of only twenty-seven countries worldwide – one of two in the Western Hemisphere – that denies mothers the right to confer nationality to their children on an equal basis with men. The Bahamas will also now continue to deny unmarried fathers the ability to confer nationality to their children. Because of this, today children born abroad to Bahamian women or unmarried Bahamian men continue to be at risk of being stateless – whereby no country considers them citizens – while families and spouses may be torn apart because Bahamian women are denied the ability to confer nationality to spouses, a right reserved only for Bahamian men. The injustices embedded in the current Constitution are clear examples of gender-based discrimination. The perpetuation of this discrimination means that The Bahamas – like too many countries across the globe – remains in violation of its commitments under international law to ensure equality between women and men. We applaud the efforts by many Bahamians, including Citizens for Constitutional Equality and government leaders, to address this discrimination. The failure of the referendum only serves to highlight the significant attention and hard work required in The Bahamas and worldwide to achieve gender equality. The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and our coalition members around the world, including in The Bahamas, remain dedicated to working for legal reforms to end gender discrimination in nationality laws. We call on the international community – government, organizations, and individuals – to join us in advocating for equal nationality rights for equal citizens, women and men. Save Save
The new Bahamas-based Citizens for Constitutional Equality (CCE) (http://www.constitutionalequality.com/) is now a coalition member of the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, an international initiative that advocates for the removal of provisions that discriminate on the basis of sex from all nationality laws. CCE, which held its official launch at a March 26 public event at Anglican Holy Church Hall in Nassau, seeks to mobilize Bahamians to pass the pending constitutional referendum that would ban discrimination based on sex and guarantee equal nationality rights for men and women.
The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion(ISI) submittted supplemental information (images/zdocs/ISI---CRC-74th-Session---Additional-Information-on-Barbados.pdf) for the consideration of the Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding Barbados’ compliance towards every child’s right to acquire a nationality under Article 7 CRC. The submission focused on the denial of the child’s right to acquire a nationality in violation of Articles 2, 7 and 8 of the CRC, as a result of gender discrimination in the nationality law of Barbados. Click here to view the submission. (images/zdocs/ISI---CRC-74th-Session---Additional-Information-on-Barbados.pdf)
Natural disasters exacerbate existing legal and social problems. In Nepal, one needless law means that, of the estimated 126,000 (http://www.unfpa.org/news/new-estimates-show-126000-pregnant-women-affected-nepal-quake/) earthquake-affected women who are currently pregnant, thousands may give birth to children who will not legally be Nepali citizens. That’s because Nepali law requires proof of the father’s citizenship. For the many unborn or newborn Nepalis whose fathers have been killed – or who have even just lost their personal documents – proof of paternity and of the father’s citizenship will be incredibly difficult.
After nearly eight years of deliberation by two consecutive Constituent Assemblies, Nepal’s draft Constitution, if passed, will result in a significant increase in stateless children, while allowing gender discrimination by state authorities to persist. Enacted in the wake of the country’s decade-long civil war, the country’s current provisional constitution states that anyone “whose father or mother is a citizen of Nepal at the birth of such person” is eligible to apply for Nepali citizenship. However, Article 8(7) of the Interim Constitution states that the children of Nepali women and foreign men can only access citizenship through naturalization, not by right, through descent. There is no similar restriction on children of Nepali men. One of the consequences of Article 8(7), is that state authorities often refuse to accept citizenship applications submitted only by mothers, as they require proof of the father’s identity to establish that he is not a foreigner. As in the 26 other countries where such discriminatory nationality laws persist, this means children denied their mother’s citizenship have limited access to public education, health care, and eventually jobs and state-recognized marriages. They are often unable to open a bank account and cannot secure a passport. Limited access to such essential human services often seriously impacts stateless persons’ long-term health and economic security. Much worse, stateless children face higher instances of child labor, trafficking and other forms of exploitation.  Alarmingly, a proposed shift from the conjunction “or” to “and” in the new Constitution, if passed, promises to dramatically increase the number of children faced with these hardships and human rights violations. Reintroduced in the January 22 meeting of the Constituent Assembly, the proposed change would require proof of both the mother and father’s Nepali citizenship in order for a child to be considered Nepali by descent. Ironically, at the start of this latest round of Constitutional negotiations, there were high hopes that the new constitution would grant women the right to confer nationality to their children (http://www.ekantipur.com/2015/01/12/top-story/leaders-commit-to-amend-controversial-citizenship-provision/400251.html), both advancing gender equality and helping to eradicate statelessness in the country. But after an initial commitment by the major political parties, several withdrew their support and returned to advocating for citizenship only for children of Nepali fathers and mothers. While the proposed revision threatens all single parents, it is expected that single women and their children would be particularly disadvantaged, due to discriminatory practices by local authorities. Moreover, the new Constitution is expected to continue to deny women the right to confer nationality to foreign spouses – a fact that risks breaking up families, as foreign fathers without proper documentation may be forced to work abroad. Despite these setbacks, champions of Nepali women’s right to confer nationality to children, including the Forum for Women, Law and Development, the Nepal Civil Society Network of Citizenship Rights and the Citizenship in the Name of the Mother coalition, continue to fight for reforms in the new Constitution.
Civil Society Report on Gender Discrimination in Lebanon's Nationality Law (Arabic) / حملة " جنسيتي حق لي ولأسرتي " و تحالف "المساواة دون تحفظ " و منظمة " التضامن النسائي للتعلم من أجل الحقوق والتنمية والسلام "
تقرير حملة " جنسيتي حق لي ولأسرتي " و تحالف "المساواة دون تحفظ " و منظمة " التضامن النسائي للتعلم من أجل الحقوق والتنمية والسلام " _ لبنان _ منذ خضوع لبنان للاستعرض الدوري الشامل ، في الدورة السادسة عشر لمجلس حقوق الإنسان في مقر الأمم المتحدة في جنيف اذار 2011 ، وحتى يومنا هذا فلم يحرز اي تقدم على مستوى المساواة في قانون الجنسية ، علماً انه رفض التوصية المتعلقة " بتعديل القانون المتعلق بالجنسية بحيث تتمكن جميع اللبنانيات المتزوجات من أجانب من منح جنسياتهن لأطفالهن وأزواجهن " . على الرغم من المعاناة التي تتعرض لها النساء اللبنانيات واسرهن بشكل يومي ، من عوائق في تسوية الاقامة ، وحرمان من الاستشفاء ، والتعليم والعمل والضمان الصحي والاجتماعي وغيرها من الحقوق الاساسية . وحيث أن لبنان لا يزال يتردد في الإقدام على أي خطوة من شأنها رفع الظلم عن المرأة اللبنانية التي لا زالت محرومة من حقها في منح جنسيتها لزوجها وأولادها أسوة بالمواطن الرجل . الا ان هناك بعض ما حصل : بتاريخ 21 آذار 2012 ، استجابة لضغط الشارع وضعت لأول مرّة هذه القضية على جدول أعمال مجلس الوزراء في ، تشكلت لجنة وزارية لدراسة تعديل قانون الجنسية. وبمرور اكثر من سنة على تشكيلها جاءت توصيتها " بعدم منح المرأة حقها بإعطاء جنسيتها لأسرتها " . مستندة بقرارها على جملة من المغالطات والحجج غير المقنعة ضاربة بعرض الحائط بالدستور وبالمعاهدات الدولية : في الشكل: 1- ذكرت كلمة "إجماع" بينما وزير الشؤون الاجتماعية عضو في اللجنة صرح في الإعلام انه لم يدعى للاجتماع ولم يوقع ولا علم له بالموضوع بتاتا. 2- جاء التقرير بعد مرور 11 يوما من لقاء اللجنة الوزارية مع حملة " جنسيتي حق لي ولأسرتي " و الجمعيات بناء على طلبها ولم يكن لديهم اللياقة الكافية لإبلاغنا بمقرراتهم. في المضمون: ثمة الكثير من المغالطات، التحريفات والمواقف غير مسندة ابرزها: 1- المراجعة مؤلفة من 20 نقطة غير محكمة من حيث التسلسل المنطقي (9: شو خص الوزارة؟) وبعضها غيرمفهوم سبب الرجوع اليها (15: رابطة الدم او الارض) او متناقضة مع السياق (12: اسبقية المعاهدات الدولية) 2- الإحصاءات التي نشرت لا تظهر بتاتا الخلل الديموغرافي الطائفي الناتج عن تبني تعديل قانون الجنسية وبأحسن الحالات تظهر وجود نسبة 6% فقط من النساء اللبنانيات المتزوجات من فلسطينيين وهذا يؤكد أن فزاعة التوطين لإقرار الحق ضعيفة وواهية. 3- تظهر الفقرة 19 الخاصة باللقاء مع الهيئات النسائية التحريف، فاللقاء مع اللجنة الوزارية ركز على الحقوق بغض النظر عن أية اعتبارات أخرى، كما تمنح انطباعا بأن محور اهتمام الحملة هو الحقوق المدنية فقط بينما ما يهم الحملة هو موضوع المساواة بغض النظر عن أية اعتبارات طائفية، ناهيك عن ضرورة التركيز على مبدأ المساواة بين اللبنانيات . في الاساسيات: ضربت المراجعة بعرض الحائط جملة اساسيات منها: 1- الدستور على حساب القوانين 2- المعاهدات الدولية في بموضوع الجنسية بحجة الدستور والقوانين اللبنانية. 3- ضرب الدستور والقوانين للاعتبارات المرتبطة بالتجاذبات السياسية، الطائفية والانتخابية. 4- التضحية بالحقوق الفردية وحقوق المواطن لحساب حقوق الطوائف. في توصيات اللجنة: 1. ربط رفض المساواة واعطاء النساء حقوقهن طالما بقي النظام الطائفي. 2. أما بالنسبة للمقترحات الخاصة بالتسهيلات والتقديمات الاجتماعية فهي غير ذي شأن وعدد منها تم انتزاعها اصلا، اما الاجتماعية منها فهي حق للمواطن والموطنة لا منة فيها على الرغم من انها اصلا غير قابلة للتحقيق في ضوء التوجهات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية الحكومية الحالية والظروف العامة المحيطة بها. موقف حملة جنسيتي حق لي ولاسرتي حول توصية اللجنة الوزارية : 1. رفض الأمر الواقع الذي يحاولون فرضه علينا. 2. رفض مبدأ أن الحقوق والمواطنة والمساواة خاضعة لأهواء السياسيين، التوازنات السياسية الطائفية، وحقوق الطوائف. 3. التقديمات والتسهيلات ليست بديل عن اقرار الحق وليست في صلب الموضوع الحقوقي. بتاريخ ايلول 2013 ، اصدر رئيس الجمهورية السابق ميشال سليمان ، مرسوم تجنيس رقم 10214 ، قضى بتجنيس 112 شخصاً عربياً واجنبياً، بصورة سرية كشفت عنه احدى الوسائل الاعلامية ، دون ان ينشر في الجريدة الرسمية . وسجلت الحملة النقاط التالية : • لم يشكل صدور هذا المرسوم مفاجأة، في ضوء الممارسات الاعتباطية وغير الشفافة التي دأب عليها مسؤولونا، وللاسف، اعتاد عليها المواطن والمواطنة. • من المعيب ان تقدم الدولة، ممثلة بركنيها الاساسيين، على الموافقة على منح الجنسية اللبنانية للاجانب، ولسخرية القدر، منحها للنساء والرجال واسرهن في آن واحد، فيما ترفض الدولة، وتحت حجج واهية، اعطاء النساء اللبنانيات الحق في منح الجنسية لاسرهن. • ان المرسوم المذكور، يكشف بشكل فاضح عن استخفاف المسؤولين بالنساء اللبنانيات وحقوقهن وعن زيف الادعاءات بالحرص على دولة المواطنة، الحقوق والقانون. ومن البديهي اذا ان لا تكون المساواة في المواطنة الكاملة والعدالة الاجتماعية من اولويات المسؤولين. • ما يدعو للاستغراب، اقدام المسؤولين على مثل هكذا خطوة، فيما البلد ومواطنيه ومواطناته في مهب الريح، بينما الطبقة السياسية الحالية تجلس عاجزة عن توفير الحد الادنى من الامان والظروف المعيشية اللائقة لابناء وبنات هذا الوطن، ولا حتى تشكيل حكومة تأخذ على عاتقها مسؤوليات معالجة المسائل الملحة التي تتفاقم يومياً بسبب الظروف الاقليمية المحيطة بلبنان. بتاريخ أيار /مايو 2014 ، اصدر رئيس الجمهورية مرة ثانية مرسوم ، قضى بتجنيس حوالي 700 شخصاً عربيا" وأجنبيا"، وايضا تم تسريبه ونشره في الصحف . وتأكيداً لما سبق ؛ فانه في عهد رئيس الجمهورية السابق ميشال سليمان، تم عبر مرسومين آخرهما في الاسبوع الاخير من ولايته ، تجنيس أكثر من الف شخص من جنسيات مختلفة ، والذي جاءا وفقاً لاعتبارات طائفية بحتة ومصلحية ضيقة مسقطا كل الحجج التي يرفعها المسؤولين لتأوول دون تعديل القانون . وعليه ترفق حملة " جنسيتي حق لي ولأسرتي " والتحالف الاقليمي " مساواة دون تحفظ " و منظمة " التضامن النسائي للتعلم من اجل الحقوق والتنمية والسلام " أدناه مقترح مشروع تعديل قانون الجنسية والاسباب الموجبة لذلك
Nationality laws in 27 countries worldwide prevent mothers from passing their nationality to their children on an equal basis with fathers. Over 60 countries deny women equal rights with men regarding the ability to acquire, change and retain their nationality, and to confer nationality to non-national spouses.
At first glance, laws governing nationality rights might seem irrelevant to securing the rights and security of girls across the globe. But, in reality, when countries deny women and men equal nationality rights, it can result in serious violations of girls’ most basic human rights. Nationality laws dictate one’s ability to acquire, change, retain and confer nationality. Today, 27 countries deny women equal rights to pass their nationality to their own children. Over 50 countries maintain some form of gender discrimination in their nationality law, including denying women the right to pass nationality to foreign spouses. When women are denied equal rights to confer nationality to their children, children with foreign fathers are at risk of being left stateless – a status whereby no state recognizes the child as a citizen. Children may be unable to access their father’s nationality for a variety of reasons. In Nepal, a country where roughly one in four persons lack entity documents, if the mother cannot prove the father’s Nepali nationality, the child is denied citizenship by descent. Similarly, Syrian women who give birth inside the country do not have the right to pass citizenship to children unless the father is stateless or does not legally recognize the child. Syrian women who give birth outside the country do not have the right to pass citizenship to their children under any circumstance. With countless Syrian refugee women separated from their husbands and giving birth abroad, a new generation of stateless children born to displaced Syrian women emerges. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these discriminatory laws discriminate against women, though a small number of countries deny unmarried fathers equal rights to confer to children due to outdated notions of gender and parenthood. While discriminatory nationality laws can result in significant hardships for all members of a family – and ultimately hurt society as a whole – the impact on girls is especially damaging because of compounding discrimination faced by girls, their resulting lack of voice and overall inattention to girls’ needs. Children without nationality often lack access to education, are denied entrance to university and are prevented from acquiring professional licenses upon adulthood. If they are allowed to attend school, they may be forced to pay higher fees. Because of persisting gender stereotypes, families with limited resources often prioritize boys’ education over girls’. Children without nationality are often denied access to healthcare systems and social services. This means that adolescent girls who lack citizenship are denied access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare. Gender discrimination in nationality laws is linked with child marriage. Due to the lack of opportunity and insecurity experienced by stateless girls, some families view early marriage as a route to greater security for their daughters, who can access citizenship through their husbands. Stateless girls are at a higher risk of being trafficked. Already marginalized girls without citizenship know that as adults they will lack a political voice and be banned from running for office. At a time when the international community is increasingly recognizing the vital role girls play in achieving peaceful, prosperous societies, gender discrimination in nationality laws prevents girls across the globe from realizing their dreams, securing their rights and fully contributing to society. Gender equal nationality laws are critical to realizing a world where girls’ rights and security are protected. The good news is, with all of the complicated challenges facing the world today, ending gender discrimination in nationality laws is relatively simple with the political will. In the past decade, over a dozen countries removed gender discrimination from their nationality laws. In some instances the addition of just two words to the law, “man or woman,”* can fix this unnecessary problem. The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights is part of a growing movement of organizations – including multiple members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls – activists and political leaders working to ensure that nationality rights are based on citizenship, not gender. We invite you to join us in this important effort. Gender discrimination, like statelessness, has no place in the 21st century. Girls deserve a future where neither exists. *Countries have amended their laws in the following manner to eliminate gender discrimination in the law: “The child of a [nationality] man or woman is a citizen; the spouse of a [nationality] man or woman may acquire citizenship.” Written by Catherine Harrington, Campaign Manager for the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights
Statement by the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights to inform the Universal Periodic Review of Oman The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights would like to respectfully raise the issue of gender discrimination in Oman’s nationality law for consideration during this second cycle of the country’s Universal Periodic Review. The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights (the Global Campaign) 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 and Women’s Refugee Commission. Oman’s nationality law, which discriminates on the basis of gender, violates the human rights of women, their children and their spouses in violation of the state’s human rights obligations and commitments to uphold international human rights treaties.
On September 19th and 20th, 2016, world leaders gather at the United Nations (UN) for two major summits on the global refugee and migration crisis – the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants co-chaired by the Governments of Jordan and Ireland and the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees convened by President Obama. In advance of the Summit, 45 organizations, including Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights co-founder, Women's Refugee Commission, released the Joint Statement on Women and Girls towards the Global Refugee and Migrant Summits (images/zdocs/Joint-Statement-Refugee-Migrant-Women-and-Girls-UN-Summits-160916.pdf), outlining recommendations for states, as well as the specific challenges faced by displaced women and girls. One of the ten recommendations calls on states to reform gender discriminatory nationality laws, recognizing such laws as a leading cause of statelessness; exacerbating the vulnerability of displaced women and their families; and in contravention with international law, which mandates non-discrimination on the basis of sex: "At the Summits and beyond, states should commit to:...Reform gender discriminatory nationality laws to ensure that women and men have equal rights to confer nationality on their children and spouses. Gender discrimination in nationality laws is a leading cause of statelessness and has been recognized by the Security Council as a factor that exacerbates the vulnerability of displaced women and children. Further, forced displacement and migration from countries with gender-discriminatory nationality laws threatens to create a new generation of stateless children. These discriminatory laws also contravene Articles 2 and 9 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child articles 2, 7 and 8." Such reforms were similarly called for in the new Human Rights Council Resolution, "The Right to a Nationality: Women's Equal Nationality Rights in Law and Practice (news/69-111-governments-sponsor-un-resolution-calling-for-women-s-equal-nationality-rights)," cosponsored in June 2016 by 107 governments. Full Joint Statement on Women and Girls towards the Global Refugee and Migrant Summits here. (images/zdocs/Joint-Statement-Refugee-Migrant-Women-and-Girls-UN-Summits-160916.pdf)
In this (images/zdocs/Equality-Now-BWU-GC-UPR-Submission-on-Bahrain-20-Sept.pdf)submission, Equality Now, the Bahrain Women’s Union, and the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights provide information and highlight concerns about sex discrimination in the law with regard to nationality in Bahrain. The submission also includes key recommendations regarding action by the government of Bahrain to better address this area of concern. View the report here (images/zdocs/Equality-Now-BWU-GC-UPR-Submission-on-Bahrain-20-Sept.pdf).
Joint Submission on Nepal to the Human Rights Council at the 23rd Session of the Universal Periodic Review
The Nepal Civil Society Network of Citizenship Rights, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion make this submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in relation to Nepal. This joint submission draws on the multiple years of research, advocacy, awareness raising, litigation and direct support related experience both in Nepal and internationally, of the respective member organisations of the Network and Global Campaign, and of the Institute. It focuses on the issue of gender discrimination in Nepal’s citizenship law that has a detrimental impact on Nepali women and their families – both men and women. Download PDF below: Nepal Civil Society Network of Citizenship Rights, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (images/NepalUPRprinting.pdf)
Shireen (http://www.equalitynow.org/take_action/discrimination_in_law_action451) lives in Jordan with her children and her non-Jordanian husband. Due to the discrimination in the country’s nationality law, her passport is stamped with the note: “Children are not permitted to be included in the mother’s passport because of her husband’s different nationality”. Shireen’s marriage is troubled, and she lives in constant fear that her husband might leave with their children – who are included on his passport. She thinks the best option for her daughter is to marry early to a Jordanian, who can help give her a sense of protection and security, which she currently does not have.
The following is based on the Global Campaign’s interview with Listyowati (Chairperson) and Rena Herdiyani (Deputy of Programs) of theKalyanamitra Foundation, a member of the network of Indonesian organizations that successfully advocated for the reform of Indonesia’s nationality law, resulting in a new gender-equal law in 2006. What made the nationality law reform movement in Indonesia successful? The nationality law reform movement was successful because we had a strong women’s movement and a network of organizations working together. So, success was not dependent on one organization but was supported through a network. We had a network of women’s organizations named JKP3 (Network of national legislation program Pro Women), which advocates for national legislation with a gender perspective. This network advocated for nationality law reform along with the International Rainbow Alliance (APAB) – a network established in 2002, consisting of people in mixed marriages (marriages of Indonesian women and foreign spouses), both who live in Indonesia and abroad – and seven women’s organizations with a focus on women’s nationality rights. At that moment the political situation was also more open in Indonesia than previously, following the political reforms undertaken after Suharto. Because of these changes, for example, civil society could now observe and attend parliament meetings. Before political reform, civil society could not attend and observe parliament meetings. Our attendance at these meetings was important because it helped to shape our lobbying with parliamentarians. We conducted our lobbying through one-on-one meetings with parliamentarians, not through the political parties. It would have been more challenging to try to convince the main political parties, because the party leadership doesn’t have a strong gender perspective. By seeking out allies amongst the parliamentarians, we could then count on them to help to lobby their own parties. empat (cc) Kent Clark What were the main arguments of the opposition and how did civil society and the government address these concerns? Those opposed to reform feared that granting women and men equal nationality rights would come at the expense of national sovereignty. They said, “Will these kids support the country? Especially if there is a conflict.” They assumed that children would have more allegiance for their father’s country rather than their mother’s. The reform movement did not engage in debates on sovereignty. We focused on the country’s commitment to uphold the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the rights of women. Some in the opposition would dismiss CEDAW and many parliamentarians didn’t know about the Convention. We would highlight the fact that Indonesia ratified the Convention [which mandates gender equal nationality rights] and that the CEDAW Committee has recommended that Indonesia reform its law to be in accordance with the Convention. Though it was difficult, we tried to get the parliamentarians to commit to implement CEDAW, including through nationality law reform. We also worked to inform policy makers and the public about the impact of the nationality law on families. The public wasn’t as concerned about the sovereignty issues that some politicians brought up. However, the public had a significant gender bias. But the public recognized that there were so many problems associated with mixed marriages because of the nationality law, and the public cared about the nationality of children. So, the public was convinced to support these reforms because they care about the children’s nationality. It is expensive to stay in Indonesia if one doesn’t have nationality. So, activists also talked about the children’s rights. Overall, Indonesian people supported the new nationality law. What messages were the most effective for the reform movement? We talked about humanity and family integrity. We asked people to imagine if their children were here in Indonesia and didn’t have Indonesian nationality. What if the father returns to his home country, and the mother stays in Indonesia? The old nationality law makes the family broken. We kept the focus on the family in our advocacy. We also emphasized that reforms are important for women migrant workers as well, because so many Indonesian women have children with foreign man when based abroad as migrant workers. The old law made it very difficult to take the baby with them back to Indonesia. Even when women wanted to be together with their [foreign] husbands and children in Indonesia, the old nationality law often forced the family to be separated. This is not about sovereignty; it shouldn’t be political. It is about humanity and family unity. What lessons were learned from the reform process and post-reform implementation? During the reform process, we found it to be very important to monitor and intensively lobby parliament and the government. The advocacy strategy should have a strong focus on members of parliament. Monitor the schedule of parliamentary meetings, and attend the sessions when citizenship law will be discussed. Monitor progress and be vigilant. Engage the media to support advocacy. We also involved artists who are married to foreigners and migrant workers to give testimonies. It is also helpful to have data on the cases of affected persons and informational material, including information on affected persons and examples of progressive laws from other countries, to give the parliamentarians. Giving parliamentarians information on other progressive nationality laws and information on the impact on national families can be used to open the minds of MPs. We emphasized that higher numbers of mixed marriages is one impact of globalization, and so Indonesia should respond by making a good law for their citizens. It is also beneficial to involve a broader advocacy network, not only women and women’s organizations, but legal organizations, human rights organizations, organizations with a focus on migrant workers to support advocacy. We have also learned that after the reform takes place, it is crucial that the government raise awareness about the law in remote and rural areas, and with migrant communities abroad. What do you see as the main challenges/gaps to implementation? There is a real problem with socialization – many affected persons and government officials aren’t aware of the reform. The government has funds to do this awareness raising work, so it’s not clear why this awareness raising hasn’t been done. The government’s commitment to ensure implementation of the law is not clear. This is not only the case with the Nationality Law. There are many good laws on the books in Indonesia, but the people don’t know about these laws. The Ministry of Law and Human Rights has local offices at the regional level. It would be great if they would cooperate with local governments through these offices to conduct an awareness raising campaign. Because they have these local offices, it would be easy for them to better socialize the local areas. Are there any recommendations you have for other civil society groups that are working for nationality law reform for gender equality in their countries? In addition to working at the national level, it can be helpful to work at the regional level as well – for example through ASEAN in this region. It is important to have an advocacy strategy that engages the media and government. Rather than just addressing this issue on a case-by-case basis, a nationality law reform campaign allows you to address the root cause of these problems and make long-term change. It is also important to continue the advocacy and stop when the law is changed. You need to have a plan for after the reforms. It is critical that implementation of the law be monitored; this is something that is not happening at the moment in Indonesia. In Indonesia, there is an area where a lot of women are married to foreign men – many Middle Eastern men – for just a couple months, and they have kids. These temporary marriages are called contract marriages. It has been especially difficult for women who were in contract marriages to get nationality, and also difficult for women with unregistered marriages. In such cases the birth certificate is usually only given in the name of the mother, not both parents. According to the law, both parents’ names will be on the birth certificate if both parents are present and a marriage certificate is shown. We still have problems with local authorities who lack information about the reform. For example, they don’t know that the mothers should be able to pass nationality even in cases of unregistered marriages. Corruption has been another challenge. When the new law passed, there was a period of four years (2006-2010) where children born before 2006 could obtain retrospective acquisition of Indonesian citizenship, by application, until 2010. During this time, there was a very high demand for citizenship documents from these families. However, some government officials during that time instituted illegal charges, seeking bribes for children born before 2006. This is not as much of a problem now as, after 2010, children from mixed couple automatically get dual citizenship, until the child turn eighteen, at which point they must choose one nationality. Kids should be able to have dual nationality. They shouldn’t be forced to choose. We are still working to achieve a law that would permit dual citizenship for lifetime.
Antananarivo, Madagascar, November 5, 2015 – Madagascar, one of 27 countries that deny women the right to confer their citizenship to their children, is poised to remove this gender discrimination from its Nationality Code, a move that would ensure all citizens have equal rights to confer nationality to children and foreign spouses. Following a technical workshop with parliamentarians organized by the Madagascar-based NGO Focus Development, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, Equal Rights Trust and UNHCR, more than 20 Madagascan parliamentarians signed a pledge to reform the country’s nationality code this session, bringing it into compliance with the Madagascan Constitution, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex. Prior to a Nationality Assembly debate on the issue, Jean Max Rakotomamonjy, President of the National Assembly, met with representatives from the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, including the Focus Development, Women’s Refugee Commission, Equal Rights Trust and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). During the meeting, the President voiced his personal commitment to eradicate gender discrimination from the nationality law by putting forward a draft bill this parliamentary session. Under Madagascar’s current Nationality Code, women can only confer nationality to children born out of wedlock, while Madagascan men confer nationality to their children in all circumstances. Madagascan women are also prevented from conferring their nationality to non-national spouses, a right that is reserved for men. In instances when Madagascan women apply for their children’s citizenship, the Code permits denial of nationality based on physical or mental disabilities. At the same time, racial discrimination in the application of the country’s nationality law has resulted in a significant portion of the Madagascan population having been denied citizenship, rendering this population stateless. Serious human rights abuses result from such laws, including lack of access to education, healthcare, employment, property rights and social services. During the November 3 parliamentary debate, representatives from Focus Development, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, Equal Rights Trust, UNHCR, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), presented the case for reform to the parliamentarians. These experts emphasized the human rights violations caused by the law, as well as the need to bring the Nationality Code in line with the Madagascan Constitution and with the country’s obligations under international law to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnicity, race, religion and disability. Speakers also highlighted that discrimination in the law inhibits the country’s development, by preventing segments of the population from contributing to the economy. Importantly, the current Code also contributes to corruption due to authorities’ discretion in the application of the law. The gallery of the National Assembly was filled with individuals affected by the law, who provided moving testimonies on this discrimination affects their daily lives. One parliamentarian gave the example of his daughter’s son, who is denied citizenship simply because his daughter, married to a foreign man. An elderly man of South Asian descent, whose ancestors have been in Madagascar for six generations stated, “I might not look Malagasy, but in my heart I am Madagascan…We give food and even donate blood from our community for the Malagasy people. When they say that we’re not integrated in Malagasy society, we are not given an opportunity to integrate.” Research conducted over the past year by the Equal Rights Trust documented serious human rights abuses resulting from the law, including lack of access to education, healthcare, employment, property rights, social services, and citizenship itself. "I want to work, but I can't because I don't have a driver's licence. It is very difficult," said Yousef Abdallah, who would like to be a mechanic or chauffeur. "I feel frustrated," he added. "For the immigration services, I am not Malagasy, but I was born here, I am Malagasy." Student Raliya Andriatsiferanarivo, whose situation is similar, told ERT her university fees were more than four times higher than those of other students because she was not considered a national. Following government commitments, the new nationality law is expected to eliminate gender discrimination completely. “We are overjoyed,” said Catherine Harrington, Campaign Manager for the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights. “Every day that discrimination persists in the law, individuals and their families suffer. The National Assembly has the power to end discrimination in the nationality law and we stand ready to support them in this effort.” “Removing gender discrimination from the law would be a major step towards gender equality and eradicating statelessness,” said Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Trust. “It would have huge benefits for many families across Madagascar. Their lives would be changed entirely.” The week's events were covered by national (http://www.lexpressmada.com/blog/actualites/maika-mahazaka-fandresena-les-apatrides-sont-les-principales-sources-de-corruption-47441/), regional (http://allafrica.com/stories/201511161503.html)and international (http://www.trust.org/item/20151112135118-zqr2v/?source=fiOtherNews3)media, resulting in further public attention to the negative impact of discriminatory nationality laws. Save
Though an important step, equal rights not "privileges" needed. Though international law guarantees each individual the right to a nationality, widespread gender discrimination in nationality laws throughout the Middle East have resulted significant numbers of children unable to access nationality in their country of residence, as well as large stateless populations. In Jordan, a country struggling to manage a growing refugee and stateless population, gender discrimination in the country’s nationality law has a profound impact, particularly on children.