ISI marks International Women’s Day with new booklet on Statelessness and the CEDAW

[posted 8 March 2018] The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion marks International Women’s Day with a #PressforProgress to realise women’s equal nationality rights, through the publication of its new statelessness essentials booklet, “Statelessness & Human Rights: The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women” .

The World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report reveals that gender parity is likely to be over 200 years away. This will be beyond the lifetimes of the great-great grandchildren of today’s girls, and around the 240th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This is unacceptable. Change must happen within our lifetimes!

One area where such a concerted effort is needed is in the eradication of gender discriminatory nationality laws, which are prohibited under Article 9 of the CEDAW. Today, 25 countries still deny mothers equal rights to confer nationality on their children, and over 50 countries deny women equal rights to acquire, retain or change their own nationality, or confer it on their spouses.

The denial of equal nationality rights to women is a rejection of the equal worth and dignity of women as citizens, rights bearers and political agents. It stands in the face of decades of progress in women’s equality movements around the world and undermines gender parity by excluding women – through the denial of citizenship – from education, employment and political participation. The denial of equal nationality rights to women has also left countless children around the world stateless, subjecting them to exclusion and disadvantage, right from the start.

The new ISI essentials booklet provides an overview on how the CEDAW can be used by rights advocates to strengthen every woman’s equal nationality rights through engaging with the CEDAW Committee and other human rights mechanisms. The booklet also identifies the UN Sustainable Development Goals as an important framework through which gender inequality and equal nationality rights for all can be addressed.

The booklet notes that change is happening – 15 countries successfully amended their nationality laws in the last 14 years – and at present, both Sudan and Sudan and Saudi Arabia have begun processes to review their gender discriminatory nationality laws. This follows law reform in 2017 in Madagascar and Sierra Leone, and positive jurisprudential developments in the United States of America and Sudan. Importantly, the booklet reveals that the CEDAW Committee has played an important role in effecting change, through its dialogue with and recommendations to states.

ISI is a steering committee member of the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and has worked with the Campaign to champion law reform in numerous countries and regions, through providing technical support, convening meetings and making submissions to the CEDAW and other UN human rights mechanisms. We hope that this booklet will be a useful tool in furthering the struggle for true and sustainable equality, and will be utilised by women’s rights actors around the world.

To read the booklet, click here.

To read the previous ISI essentials booklet on the Universal Periodic Review, click here.

To read the previous ISI essentials booklet on the Sustainable Development Goals, click here.