Equal Rights – Equal Responsibilities

Campaigns

IAW joins the International Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights.

By on 18 October 2015

Launched in 2014 by an international coalition of NGOs and UN agencies, the Global Campaign advocates reforms for equal nationality rights.

That is necessary. 27 countries prevent mothers from passing their nationality on to their children on an equal basis with fathers. More than 60 countries have gender discriminatory nationality laws.

In 1930 the International Alliance, together with the International Women’s Council staged a great demonstration in The Hague to make it possible that women could choose their nationality. This was on the occasion of the Hague Codification Conference of International Private Law.

Then women usually got the nationality, or even the statelessness, of their husbands. In the Netherlands that law was changed in 1936. A woman could keep her Dutch nationality if she could not acquire her husband’s. It was under the influence of CEDAW (1979) that in 1984 Dutch women got equal nationality rights with men, including the right to pass on their nationality to their children.

Apart from pure discrimination it is a violation of children’s rights if the mother cannot pass on her nationality. This is a problem if the father is unknown, in case of divorce or widowhood, if the father is stateless. Last year I attended a side event in Geneva where a movie was shown of a family who lived, fatherless, in a country where the mother, a citizen,  and the children were born. The children could not go to university, they could not get a job because they did not have the nationality of their mother.

And it is so simple:

Just change the law so that a father and a mother both have the right to pass on their nationality.

 

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Lyda Verstegen is a lawyer and served as President of the International Alliance of Women from 2010 to 2013. She is currently convener of the IAW Human Rights Commission .

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