Today, on the occasion of Human Rights Day the Equal Rights Trust has launched My Children’s Future, a film which highlights the devastating consequences of laws implemented in 27 countries which deny women the ability to pass on nationality to their children.
My Children’s Future follows the stories of women and their families affected by gender discriminatory nationality laws in Madagascar and Nepal. In one way or another, their human rights have been denied; they have been left stateless, unable to access essential rights such as education, healthcare and jobs.
“Our plans, aims, goals, our jobs and our studies are restricted, and it is very sad...we are in a state of statelessness,” says 14 year old Neha from Nepal. Neha’s mother raised her alone and was unable to pass on nationality to her.
Without nationality and an identity card, those affected are also at risk of being arrested and are unable to travel freely. Furthermore, mothers of these children often suffer from depression and feel a sense of guilt and shame.
Sofia from Madagascar was abandoned by her husband when she was pregnant with her son Yousef, and she has been unable to pass on her nationality him. Consequently, without nationality, he has been unable to work in well-paid legitimate employment. When he got sick earlier this year he had to suffer with the pain when the hospital tried to charge him a higher treatment fee for non-nationals. Today, he relies on Sofia to take care of him, his wife and their newborn child.
“I would like him to get a job, a degree, to become a mechanic…so that he can have a stable situation - that is what I want for him,” says Sofia.
In the last decade over ten countries have reformed their laws. My Children’s Future also looks at two of these countries – Indonesia and Kenya - highlighting some of the benefits of reform.
Changing just a number of small provisions in the laws of countries like Madagascar and Nepal would drastically alter the lives of hundreds of thousands, particularly those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.
Executive Director of the Equal Rights Trust, Dimitrina Petrova, said, “This film draws attention to not only the situation in Madagascar and Nepal but indeed to the other 25 countries with gender discriminatory nationality laws. They must address the fact that these laws are fuelling statelessness, trapping thousands in poverty, and doing little to promote equal rights for all.”
My Children’s Future calls on partners around the world to join the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, a coalition formed last year by the Equal Rights Trust, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Women’s Refugee Commission, Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion, and Equality Now to eliminate gender discrimination in nationality laws.
Useful Links on the Issue
- Related films.
- New Report Launched on How and Why States Must Reform Gender Discriminatory Nationality Laws.
- Flyer on Ending Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws.
- In Madagascar, Reforming Nationality Law Advances Social and Economic Rights.
- Madagascar Moves Closer to Reforming Gender Discriminatory Nationality Law.
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