Kuwait: Give women equal citizenship rights to men
The Kuwaiti nationality law discriminates against women, preventing them from passing on their nationality to their children and spouses on an equal basis with men. This can leave them unable to access state services such as health and education, and gender discrimination in nationality laws is one of the primary causes of statelessness in the region, in addition to causing a number of other human rights violations.
“I am a Kuwaiti woman. I married a man with Canadian nationality in 1985. My husband used to work in the Kuwaiti military service and participated in the Gulf War. I have four children who were born, raised and have all studied in Kuwait. They have not known any other country and believe that Kuwait is their homeland.
“In 1997, my husband became unemployed due to the government’s policy of hiring Kuwaitis rather than foreigners, especially after the Gulf War. He was forced to leave Kuwait, and moved back to Canada.
“For the next three years I was the sole breadwinner of the family. I did not receive any financial support from the Kuwaiti government, including to help in paying the rent and the daily expenses of my children, simply because my husband was not a Kuwaiti citizen and so my children were not considered citizens either. Eventually, my financial situation and psychological health started to deteriorate, so I decided to leave with my four children and emigrate to Canada to live with my husband.
“After eight years of living in Canada, my children obtained Canadian citizenship and decided to stay in Canada permanently. They felt that they could live in dignity and without restriction when it came to finding appropriate employment, which they faced in Kuwait as they lacked Kuwaiti citizenship.
“My family, who had once felt at home together in Kuwait, were now settled in Canada. This created a lot of tension between me and my husband, as I was traveling between Canada and Kuwait, which is my home. This ultimately led to our divorce.
“Currently at 56 years of age, I am a divorcee and a cancer patient living alone in Kuwait. I feel so lonely without my children around me and with no one to take care of me.
“If I had been able to pass on my nationality to my children and husband, we may have been together in Kuwait, our homeland, and I would not have been living this miserable life.”
This is just one example of the suffering endured by thousands of Kuwaiti women who are married to non-Kuwaiti nationals. The Kuwaiti nationality law discriminates against women, preventing them from passing on their nationality to their children and spouses on an equal basis with men. This can leave them unable to access state services such as health and education, and gender discrimination in nationality laws is one of the primary causes of statelessness in the region, in addition to causing a number of other human rights violations.
Equality Now and our partners, Kuwaiti Women Without Limits and the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights (of which Equality Now is a founding steering committee member) urge Kuwait to comprehensively amend the Nationality Law so as to uphold its commitment to the Constitution, and comply with its international legal obligations and commitments, including Target 10.3 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN in 2015, which calls on all governments to “[e]nsure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws…”
Please urge Kuwait to consider the proposed bills and strengthen them to eliminate all discrimination based on sex in the Nationality Law.
Letters should go to:
Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
H.H Jaber Al Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah
The Speaker of the National Assembly
Mr. Marzouq Al Ghanim
Read this campaign in Arabic.