Nationality laws in 24 countries worldwide prevent women from passing their nationality to their children on an equal basis with men. Roughly 50 countries deny women equal rights with men in their ability to acquire, change or retain their nationality, or to confer nationality on non-national spouses.
This discrimination results in wide-ranging human rights violations, violates international law – and many of these countries’ constitutions – and inhibits sustainable development.
Countries that discriminate against mothers in their ability to confer nationality on their children*:
The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Brunei, Burundi, Eswatini, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Togo, United Arab Emirates
Countries that discriminate against unmarried fathers in their ability to confer nationality on their children*:
The Bahamas, Barbados, and Malaysia
Countries with gender-based discrimination pertaining to the conferral of nationality on spouses and/or acquire, change and retain her nationality:
Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Egypt, Eswatini, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Gender-Discriminatory Nationality Laws and…
Women’s Rights Violations:
Denying women and men equal nationality rights is a clear form of discrimination based on sex. The vast majority of nationality laws that maintain gender-based discrimination, discriminate against women by denying women equal rights to acquire, change, retain and confer nationality to children or spouses. These laws are often the legacy of laws implemented under colonial rule and are rooted in systems that held women to be unequal to men. Nationality laws that discriminate on the basis of gender are in contradiction to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which explicitly obliges States to guarantee equal nationality rights to women (Article 9). When a State denies equal nationality rights to women and men, it creates a category of second class citizens. Gender equality cannot be realized in a country that maintains gender-discriminatory nationality laws.
Gender discrimination in nationality laws is one of the primary causes of statelessness, a status whereby an individual is not recognized as a citizen by any country. Statelessness can occur when children are unable to acquire their parents’ nationality, or when a woman loses her nationality due to her gender and marital status, in addition to other causes. Statelessness results in wide-ranging and significant human rights violations and hardships that can impact individuals and their families for generations. In addition to other human rights violations, stateless individuals are denied participation in political processes, including the right to vote and run for public office. There are an estimated 12 million stateless individuals worldwide. Ending gender discrimination in nationality laws is critical to eradicating statelessness and is listed as Action #3 in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Global Action Plan to End Statelessness by 2024. Action #3 also calls for stakeholders to work with the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights to realize this goal.