To most Americans, citizenship, like DNA, seems like something a parent passes to a child without thought or effort. And indeed, for fathers around the world, that’s almost universally true.
But one-in-seven countries currently have laws or policies prohibiting or limiting the rights of women to pass citizenship to a child or non-citizen spouse, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. The U.N. data show these types of laws or policies were present in most countries around the world 60 years ago. In the past five years, multiple countries have taken steps to change these laws — including Kenya, Monaco, Yemen and Senegal. Just last month, Suriname changed its nationality laws to allow women to pass citizenship to spouses and children.
The United Nations tracks these laws as a part of its work to monitor stateless populations — particularly children who may become stateless if they cannot acquire nationality from either parent. Although in most situations a child can obtain nationality from his or her father, if the father is from a stateless population, the child may also be at risk to become stateless. As a result, these children and their stateless parent may be left without identity documents or access to education, health care or employment...
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