Second-class citizens? Gender in African citizenship law

Published: 11/Jun/2013
Source: Citizenship Studies

By: Jennifer C. Seely, Emma Diambogne Dioufa, Charlotte-Anne Malischewskia, Maria Vaikatha & Kiah Young-Burnsa

Citizenship Studies, Vol.17, Nos.3-4, 2013, pp.429-446

In recent publications, Manby (2009, 2010) has pointed out serious inequities in African citizenship laws. As women are one of the largest groups at risk of unequal treatment, we systematically examine sub-Saharan African citizenship laws for discriminatory provisions and language. We find that for laws currently in force, legal treatment of women is uneven, both across the continent and within countries. We consider the role gender plays in transmitting citizenship to children, as well as differences between the genders in citizenship transmitted through marriage. Some countries are gender neutral in most or all aspects of the law, others are gender neutral with respect to parents and children but favor men in transmitting citizenship to their wives, and others still discount the role of women in both respects. We employ quantitative methods to understand the background conditions that influence citizenship law, finding that temporal and demographic factors have some systematic influence. To understand when and how citizenship laws may change, we examine case study evidence of women’s movements as a means for bringing about gender equality, finding that targeted legal action or major constitutional overhauls can help render citizenship laws more gender neutral.

Link to article on Citizenship Studies website.

Themes: Gender
Regions: Pan Africa
Year: 2013