• Nationality Rights

    Groundbreaking Arab League declaration heightens global momentum to end gender discrimination in nationality laws

    This blog was cross-posted from the European Network on Statelessness.

    Amid the tragedy and uncertainty of today’s global challenges, there have been several important developments in the fight for gender equality in the past year. Importantly, these wins do more than advance gender justice; they help to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges we face today. From the reform of rape laws in Jordan and Lebanon, to the banning of child marriage in Malawi, women’s long-awaited right to drive in Saudi Arabia, the increasingly international #MeToo movement to combat gender-based harassment and violence, Iceland’s new pay equality law, and women’s marches around the world, demanding equality and rejecting misogynist political leaders; women and men are demanding an end to discriminatory laws and practices, and creating a more just, secure, and peaceful world as they do it. This is especially true of the fight to end gender discrimination in nationality laws, which has seen momentum for reform building in multiple regions, and notable progress achieved in the past year.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Strongly Condemns President Trump’s Decision to End DACA

    Washington, DC – Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on behalf of the Trump Administration, announced the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Anti-Immigrant Bills

    Washington, DC - This week, the House of Representatives will vote on two vehemently anti-immigrant bills. Led by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” threatens to strip federal funding for so-called "sanctuary jurisdictions" and coerce cities, counties, states, and local jurisdictions to violate the Constitution. This legislation would make communities less safe, by restricting critical public safety services and by making immigration communities afraid to come forward to report crimes to police, including in cases where an individual is a survivor of domestic violence or rape. “Kate’s Law” would expand the prosecution of illegal reentry cases, heighten the associated penalties, and severely impede access to due process. This would include prosecution of individuals seeking protection at U.S. borders for humanitarian reasons as well as those seeking to reunite with their families, putting asylum seekers and families at risk and violating international protection law.

    SCOTUS Uphold Portion of Trump Travel Ban

    Women’s Refugee Commission Issues Statement 

    NEW YORK – The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) today cleared the way for a portion of the Trump administration’s travel ban to take effect. The travel ban – which targets Muslims and many predominately- Muslim countries – was put on hold by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland. Today’s ruling allows the ban to apply to, “foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” and sets the Court up to rule in October on the rest of the ban, which means that until then, those individuals with pre-existing commitments and relationships allowing them to enter the U.S. will still be able to do so.

    Madagascar Reforms Its Nationality Law, Guaranteeing Mothers’ Independent Right to Confer Nationality On Children

    The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights extends congratulations to the people of Madagascar, who have reached a milestone this week in the fight for gender equality for all citizens. On January 25, the government promulgated a new nationality law that guarantees the equal right of citizens, regardless of their gender, to confer their nationality on their children.

    The Violence of Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws

    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.

    The Violence of Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws

    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 – links that must be recognized and addressed to combat the root causes of gender-based violence.

    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.  

    Women’s Refugee Commission Recommendations for the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges: Children on the Move

    The mission of the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) is to improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crises. We welcome the emphasis on Children on the Move at this year’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges and the central role that young people themselves will have during the Dialogue. This underscores the importance of consulting directly with children and adolescents to understand their specific protection concerns and proposed solutions. We hope the Dialogue will result in a collective commitment to concrete actions that will improve protection for children on the move.

    ICYMI: WRC Calls on President Obama to Ensure Protection of Asylum Seekers Before He Leaves Office

    Washington, DC—The uncertainties of the incoming Trump Administration loom especially large for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the United States. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump’s rhetoric was characterized by exclusion, deportation, and an uptick in “law and order,” striking fear in the hearts of women and families that have fled to the US from unlivable circumstances. The Women’s Refugee Commission believes that prior to Trump’s transition, President Obama has a chance to ensure that American values are upheld and innocent asylum seekers are protected.

    A Call to President Obama: Ensure the Protection of Asylum Seekers Before the Trump Administration Takes Over

    Undoubtedly, the results of Tuesday’s election have changed what it means to be an immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeker in the United States. Given the rhetoric of deportation and exclusion that were often at the heart of the Trump campaign’s promises on immigration policy, we at the Women’s Refugee Commission sincerely hope that those promises will not turn out be the reality of a Trump Administration.

    Chance of Citizenship Also Destroyed in Nepal

    A gender-discriminatory nationality law means that thousands of Nepali children born after the earthquake may be unable to claim citizenship. This puts them at risk of marginalization, decreased education and healthcare, and poverty.

    Invisible Women Must be Included: WRC at CSW59/Beijing+20

    WRC at CSW59/Beijing+20

    The 2015 Commission on the Status of Women demonstrated great strides since the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted. Here are some of the most important issues.