Probably one of the most inspiring campaigns I’ve seen in the Arab world lately is the Lebanese campaign "My nationality: a right for me and my family," which is geared towards pushing for the right of Lebanese women to pass citizenship on to their children. As is the case in a majority of Arab counties:
"According to Article 1 of the Lebanese Domestic Law, only the child born of a Lebanese father" is deemed Lebanese.
While Lebanon acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1997, it placed a reservation on the article that stipulates that "states parties shall grant women equal rights with respect to the nationality of their children." The reservation exempts the government from having to implement the article. Source: [IRIN]
I have discussed this topic on my blog a number of times, primarily because I am personally affected by this sexist law and I just can’t get over it. Apparently, things in Lebanon are somewhat better than Jordan. In particular:
Since 2004, an administrative measure taken by the General Security body in the interior ministry, permits children born of Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers to obtain renewable residence permits every three years free of charge. Before this, such parents had to pay US $200 for a renewable, one-year residency permit for their children. Source: [IRIN]
This is not the case in Jordan. Even a residence permit for children with foreign fathers is not given automatically or free of charge. This campaign is appealing to the Lebanese government and parliament, asserting the full citizenship rights of Lebanese women and calling for the "amendment of the articles deemed discriminatory against women." The issue is controversial, as the primary reason behind this law is political!
"Politicians fear that if women are allowed to pass their nationality onto their husbands, many Palestinians will take advantage of this and start marrying Lebanese women en masse," said Ahmad Halimi of the Popular Aid for Relief and Development NGO that works with Palestinians in Lebanon. Source: [IRIN]
Kudos to the Lebanese for their efforts! Hopefully they will get what they want some day soon and then other Arab countries will follow suit.