- Constituent Assembly of Nepal
Guarantee Equal Nationality Rights for Nepali Women
To the esteemed members of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal,
We would like to express our serious concern regarding gender discrimination in Nepal’s new Constitution and Citizenship Act and Rules, which deny Nepali women the right to independently confer their nationality to their children and spouses, while also denying women equal rights to acquire Nepali nationality.
Under the new Constitution which imposes no conditions on fathers, Nepali mothers may only confer citizenship on their child if the father is ‘unknown’, a term with significant stigma attached. Additionally, while foreign women married to Nepali men have access to citizenship, the Constitution is silent on the ability of foreign men married to Nepali women to naturalize. Furthermore, if a Nepali woman is married before acquiring citizenship documentation through her parents, then she must acquire citizenship through her husband.
Women’s unequal nationality rights can result in significant human rights violations experienced by women and their children, including:
- Lack of a legal status and statelessness
- Lack of access to education, healthcare, and even a livelihood
- Restrictions on freedom of movement, particularly the inability to obtain travel documents for foreign travel
- Barriers to accessing services and products such as bank accounts and mobile phone accounts
- The inability to own or inherit property
- Significant emotional and psychological impact on affected persons and their families
Nepali women’s unequal nationality rights are also in contradiction with international law, including commitments made by the government of Nepal as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Given the serious human rights violations and hardships experienced by Nepali women and their families due to gender discrimination in nationality rights, we appeal to you to:
1. Ensure that Nepal’s national laws, policies and practices fully comply with Article 9 CEDAW and Articles 7 and 8 CRC, and with general principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in international treaties.
2. Amend/repeal discriminatory provisions in the Constitution, Act and Rules that prevent women from acquiring, retaining and transferring citizenship on an equal basis with men, and ensure effective implementation of the law.
3. Recognize the independent right of each parent to provide citizenship based on lineal descent to their children, and the right of both women and men to confer citizenship to their foreign spouse on equal terms.
4. Reduce statelessness in Nepal by conferring citizenship to all persons who have been denied citizenship due to the prevalence of gender discriminatory nationality laws, and prevent statelessness from occurring in the future.
Gender discrimination and statelessness have no place in the 21st Century. Ensuring that women and men have equal nationality rights will lead to a more just and prosperous future for Nepal and all its citizens.
- Constituent Assembly of Nepal
Guarantee Nepali Women's Nationality Rights & Equality in the New Constitution
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