List of 24 countries barring women from conferring nationality to their children

(Last Updated On: 15 July 2023)

In 24 countries around the world, women are still banned from passing nationality to their own children, the United Nations chief says.

The UN Secretary-General – Antonio Guterres recently said today, millions of people worldwide are denied a nationality, demanding that “all women must have the same right as men to pass on their nationality”.

Under the #IBelong Campaign, according to the UN, the aim is to end statelessness in the world in ten years, adding that nationality Laws that do not grant women equality with men in conferring nationality to their children are a cause of statelessness and a concern for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under its mandates to prevent and reduce statelessness.

Courtesy image.

UNHCR in its publication of March 4, 2022, identified the following countries as having restrictions on women regarding giving nationality to children.

In Africa, Sudan, Togo, Burundi, Somalia, and Liberia; Guinea, Mauritania, and Madagascar are some of the countries. Other countries outside Africa are the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Oman; Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank.

Others are the Syrian Arab Republic, Bahamas; United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Swaziland, Brunei Darussalam, and Bahrain, among others.

Between 2003 and 2013, according to the global refugee agency, actions by states allowed more than 4 million stateless people to acquire a nationality or have their nationality confirmed.

“A total of 12 countries have taken steps to remove gender discrimination from their nationality laws – crucial to ensuring that children are not left stateless if their fathers are stateless or unable to confer their nationality,” the global refugee agency stated.

It also said there have been 49 accessions to the two conventions on statelessness – an increase that will lead to more action to protect stateless people, resolve their predicament and prevent new cases from occurring.

In 1995, the UN General Assembly gave UNHCR the formal mandate to identify stateless people, prevent and reduce statelessness around the world, as well as to protect the rights of stateless people.

Kenya’s Campaign to end statelessness

According to UNHCR’s update on the campaigns from July to September 2022 to end statelessness, Haki Centre and Civil Registration Services in Kenya conducted a five-day birth registration exercise in Lungalunga sub-county in Kwale County, aiming at stateless and at-risk residents.

In that exercise, 2,133 children were registered, including through late birth registration procedures.

Is Uganda having stateless persons?

According to UNHCR, Uganda acceded to the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 Protocol on September 27, 1967. Also, on April 15, 1965, Uganda ratified the 1954 Convention on the stateless persons with no reservations.

In its universal periodic review focusing on Uganda, UNHCR said the country has for decades been generously hosting refugees and asylum seekers. “UNHCR is not aware of stateless persons in Uganda, but the potential for statelessness is, however, real…”

At least 1 million people in West Africa are stateless, according to an available report.

Equality Now, an international non-governmental organization in July 2022 said a quarter of countries still have nationality laws that discriminate against women.

“…countries must urgently amend nationality laws that discriminate based on sex…. campaigners are calling on governments to dismantle sexist nationality laws and ensure full legal equality in citizenship,” part of their call reads.

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