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    The Violence of Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws

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    Upon first glance, gender-based violence (GBV) and laws pertaining to citizenship may seem worlds apart. In fact, there are significant links between women’s nationality rights and GBV. During these 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, it is a good time to consider how gender discrimination in nationality laws contributes to violence against women and girls.

    Nationality laws determine the ability to acquire, change, and retain one’s citizenship, as well as the ability to pass citizenship to children and non-national spouses. Though traditionally the nationality of wives and children was based on the nationality of the husband/father, over the 20th century most countries reformed their nationality laws (and gave women the right to vote), enabling women and men to confer citizenship on an equal basis.

    However, today 27 countries still deny mothers the equal right to confer nationality on their children. Roughly 50 countries maintain other gender-discriminatory provisions in their nationality laws, such as denying women the right to equally confer nationality on spouses, or stripping women of their citizenship due to their marital status.