Sierra Leone Enshrines Equal Right of Women to Pass Nationality to Children
Following passage of an amended Citizenship Act in 2017, Sierra Leone now guarantees women and men the equal right to confer nationality on children. With this critical reform, only 25 countries remain worldwide that deny women the ability to pass their citizenship to their children on an equal basis with men.
Prior to the July 5 reform, the Citizenship Act of 1973 (amended 2006), denied Sierra Leonean women the right to confer nationality on their children born abroad, a right reserved for men.
The reform advanced commitments made by all members of the West African regional union ECOWAS to enshrine equal nationality rights for women– a critical step to ending statelessness.
Sierra Leone’s reform came on the heels of two notable advances for gender equal nationality rights in 2017: the promulgation in January of Madagascar’s new nationality law, which guarantees women and men the equal right to confer nationality on children; and a June decision by the United States Supreme Court, which struck down a provision that denied unmarried fathers the right to pass citizenship to their children on an equal basis with mothers.
Over the past century, the overwhelming majority of countries have enacted reforms to enshrine equal nationality rights for women and men, with discriminatory citizenship laws largely having been a legacy of colonial rule and legal systems that denied women voting and other rights.
The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and The Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality warmly congratulates the government and people of Sierra Leone for this important achievement, which advances the realization of gender equality and assists in ending childhood statelessness.
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