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Campaigning for equal citizenship rights for women in the Middle East and North Africa

Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa have nationality laws that discriminate against women, limiting their ability to transfer their nationality to their children and spouses or acquire, retain or change it on an equal basis with men.  For example:

  • Under Jordanian Law No.6 of 1954 on Nationality, last amended in 1987, with few exceptions, Jordanian women cannot transmit their nationality to their children nor, if married, to their spouses.
  • The Kuwait Nationality Law of 1959 does not recognize the right of Kuwaiti women to transmit their nationality to non-Kuwaiti spouses and children on equal terms with Kuwaiti men.
  • Lebanese nationality laws discriminate against women, preventing them from passing on their nationality to their children and spouses on an equal basis with men.

This can leave them unable to access state services such as health and education, and gender discrimination in nationality laws is one of the primary causes of statelessness in the region, in addition to causing several other human rights violations.

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, and Yemen all revised their nationality laws prior to 2011, and it is time for Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait to follow suit.

What does the law say? 

As well as contradicting constitutional guarantees of equality, these laws also contradict many of the international human rights treaties ratified by Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  

Learn more about discrimination in nationality law in our 2016 report, The State We’re In: Ending Sexism in Nationality Laws

Working to end discrimination in nationality law

As co-founder of the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, Equality Now continues to advocate for the amendment of these and all discriminatory nationality laws in terms of equality in the right to transfer, acquire, change and retain nationality as provided for under international law.