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 947 signatures
    Number Date Name Location Add a personal comment to ...
    947 Tue Feb 24 17:29:42 EST 2015 Emma Knutas Stockholm, SE
    946 Fri Feb 20 12:34:12 EST 2015 Arno Opsomer Ronse, BE
    945 Fri Feb 20 11:45:19 EST 2015 Kevin De Vos Ronse, ot , BE It's time to repeal all these antiquated, preposterous and progress-inhibiting laws and let the voice of reason and justice echo through our legislation.
    944 Tue Feb 17 06:50:21 EST 2015 Judy Talamantes Pomona, CA , US
    943 Tue Feb 17 06:45:12 EST 2015 Else Krogh-Hansen Nesodden, NO+01 , NO
    942 Mon Feb 16 22:49:11 EST 2015 Jan VanDenBerg Hotchkiss, Select a state , US
    941 Mon Feb 16 15:20:32 EST 2015 Niamh Kelly Waterford, IRL, IE+27 , IE
    940 Thu Feb 05 13:58:12 EST 2015 Abby Gausden London, ot , GB
    939 Tue Jan 27 21:31:15 EST 2015 Robert Rowe Hamilton, ON , CA
    938 Wed Jan 21 13:19:29 EST 2015 Solveig Jensen Gottingen, DE
    937 Sun Jan 18 15:32:19 EST 2015 Anonymous Astoria, NY , US
    936 Tue Jan 13 22:42:01 EST 2015 avree howard Lakewood, CA , US
    935 Tue Jan 06 14:46:53 EST 2015 Zainab Salim Cambridge, ot , GB Discrimination of women is outdated and requires urgent action.
    934 Fri Dec 19 17:34:38 EST 2014 Bev Blundell Pemberton , BC , CA
    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
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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: