Global: Amend all sex discriminatory nationality and citizenship laws

Over the last 13 years, Equality Now has been calling for the repeal of all sex discriminatory laws; however, despite repeated commitments by governments to do so, sex discrimination persists, including in citizenship and nationality laws. Nationality is an essential step in helping individuals access a fair and decent life and their equal rights – to education, healthcare, work, marriage choices and much more. Women and men should have equal rights to transfer their nationality to their children and their spouse, but too often the laws governing citizenship are based on – and so reinforce – stereotypical roles for women and men. This not only denies equality to women and men, it also causes unnecessary suffering, vulnerability and harm to all affected by the discrimination.

This graph shows the number of countries where women cannot pass on their nationality either to their children--born at home or abroad--or to their spouses and the small number of countries where unmarried men cannot pass their nationality to their children without fulfilling additional requirements, such as pledging to provide financially for the child.

Consequences arriving from the inability, largely of women, to pass on their nationality to their children or spouse or can be very grave, including:   

  • statelessness (lack of citizenship)   
  • fear of deportation of children and husband
  • additional vulnerability of girls to forced and early marriage
  • increased vulnerability of women in abusive marriages
  • difficulties for women in claiming child custody/access on marriage breakup
  • lack of access to publicly-funded education for the children
  • lack of access to publicly-funded medical services and national health insurance
  • lack of access to social benefits
  • inability to register personal property
  • limited freedom of movement, including to travel abroad
  • limited access to jobs and economic opportunities
  • trauma and anxiety

Nationality laws are very complex, but removing any discrimination between men and women is straightforward and should be achieved through immediate legal reform.

This petition calls on the governments of the following countries to amend all discriminatory provisions in their constitutions, laws, regulations and policies that prevent women and men from passing on their nationality to their children and their spouse on an equal basis: Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Denmark, Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Vanuatu, Yemen.


Good laws that put women on an equal footing with men are necessary to protect and promote women's rights and facilitate their full social, economic and political participation. Legal equality gives women a level playing field from which to make their own choices, build their capabilities and realize their hopes and dreams, positively affecting the development of society in general.

We call on your government to amend, as a matter of urgency, the sex discriminatory provisions in your laws relating to nationality so that women and men may pass on their nationality to their children and/or their spouses on an equal basis and free from discrimination.
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  • 1-25 of 933 signatures
    Number Date Name Location Add a personal comment to ...
    933 Sat Dec 13 17:34:55 EST 2014 Jane Anderson Oxford, GB
    932 Mon Nov 24 07:55:49 EST 2014 Enoka Fernandopulle Nugegoda, ot , LK
    931 Tue Nov 04 23:04:40 EST 2014 Ritsa Panagis Playa Vista, CA , US
    930 Tue Nov 04 11:30:20 EST 2014 Anonymous howie center, CA
    929 Sat Nov 01 04:43:02 EDT 2014 Ali Albadri Kuwait, KW
    928 Fri Oct 31 23:33:34 EDT 2014 Anonymous melbourne, Select a state , AU
    927 Fri Oct 24 21:02:44 EDT 2014 Ella Hofmann Auckland, NZ+E7 , NZ
    926 Fri Oct 10 10:51:26 EDT 2014 Don Wood Park Forest, IL , US
    925 Sun Oct 05 12:45:10 EDT 2014 Tina Toni London, ot , GB
    924 Fri Sep 26 04:13:52 EDT 2014 Jarosława Szwagierczak Kraków, PL+39 , PL
    923 Wed Sep 10 00:06:42 EDT 2014 Caroline Richards Cormier Edmonton, AB , CA
    922 Sat Sep 06 10:52:47 EDT 2014 Shannon Allen Davenport, FL , US
    921 Mon Sep 01 18:05:50 EDT 2014 Caroline Richards Cormier Edmonton, AB , CA
    920 Mon Sep 01 18:04:54 EDT 2014 Caroline Richards Cormier Edmonton, AB , CA
    919 Mon Sep 01 06:00:57 EDT 2014 Stephen Cardwell Knutsford, ot , United Kingdom
    918 Sat Aug 30 19:17:58 EDT 2014 Angela Fazzari Portland, United States
    917 Sat Aug 30 01:19:48 EDT 2014 Deedra Rambeau Davisburg, MI , US
    916 Sat Aug 30 01:16:54 EDT 2014 Deedra Rambeau Davisburg, MI , US
    915 Sat Aug 30 01:15:47 EDT 2014 Deedra Rambeau Davisburg, MI , US
    914 Thu Aug 28 18:41:33 EDT 2014 Natalie Van Leekwijck Hoevenen, BELGIUM
    913 Thu Aug 28 13:23:40 EDT 2014 Josep Alfano New York, NY , US
    912 Thu Aug 28 11:56:22 EDT 2014 Barbara Cobb Carbondale, CO , US
    911 Thu Aug 28 11:38:33 EDT 2014 Sheila Dunnachie Mayne Island, BC , Canada
    910 Thu Aug 28 11:29:49 EDT 2014 Bruce Mitchell Edinburgh, GB+V5 , GB
    909 Thu Aug 28 10:25:33 EDT 2014 Anonymous Coon Rapids, MN , United States
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    This petition will be delivered to the governments listed above.

    Equality Now has compiled a report illustrating the harmful effects of discriminatory nationality laws and our recommendations to address this issue, which has been sent to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. For more information and to download the full report: