Report on Citizenship Law : Malawi

Published: 30/Mar/2021
Source: GLOBALCIT, European University Institute

By Tabeth Masengu


Malawi is one of the few African countries that has decided to retain gender discrimination present in its nationality laws, despite amending its constitution within the last three years. Malawi’s Citizenship Act permits foreign wives to attain their Malawian husbands’ citizenship, but no clause allows foreign husbands to acquire their wives citizenship. In contrast,the Constitution of Malawi, which was amended as recently as 2017, enshrines gender equality as a principle of national policy and explicitly states that gender equality will be obtained by implementing non-discrimination principles other measures as required. This discrimination is even more curious because, in 2018, the Malawian Parliament voted to amend the Citizenship Act by allowing for dual citizenship for both adults and children. This amendment was hailed by the Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi as proof that the Government was at « the heart of women’s emancipation » because the new amendment meant that a Malawian woman would not lose her citizenship upon marrying a foreigner and acquiring his citizenship.Gender and other forms of discrimination in the Citizenship Act are remnants of a colonial past commencing in 1891 when the British colonised Malawi.

This paper begins with that colonial past when Nyasaland (now Malawi) was a member of the Federation of Central Africa and its subsequent independence on July 6,1964. After a historical overview of Malawi, the paper examines post-independence changes to citizenship rules before examining historical migration patterns that have affected claims for citizenship in Malawi.This is followed by a discussion on the current citizenship laws concerning acquisition and deprivation of citizenship before concluding remarks.

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Themes: Acquisition de la nationalité, Discrimination, Sexuelle, Perte et déchéance de la nationalité
Regions: Malawi
Year: 2021