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Wed 6 Feb 2008 12:43 PM

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Arab women demand nationality rights

Kuwaiti women's advocate fights for rights of children of Arab women married to non-nationals.

A Kuwaiti women's advocate group has launched a regional campaign to fight for automatic nationality to be passed to children in GCC and Arab countries.

The Women's Cultural Social Society (WCSS) said at a forum on Monday the group had started a campaign in most countries where the nationality right issue occurred, the Kuwait Times daily reported on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether the WCSS has included the UAE in the campaign, although children of a UAE national woman and a non-national father are not automatically entitled to citizenship.

Without nationality, access to healthcare, housing, education and employment are restricted for children, the newspaper said.

According to Kuwait's nationality law, children of a Kuwait woman and a non-Kuwait man do not receive citizenship, although children of a Kuwait man and a non-Kuwait woman are automatically granted citizenship.

The WCSS said the group has been demanding the rights of children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis since the mid 1990s.

Lawyer Mubarak Al-Shimari said the Kuwaiti Nationality Law no.15 was issued in 1959 and if it were amended problems of discrimination between Kuwaiti men and women would be solved.

“We demand that the nationality law be amended or bring the law to its original form… women are playing an important role in the state's decision-making process and must be part of the political process,” he said, quoted Kuwait Times.

A previous form of the law saw Kuwaiti women receive a house, but this right was removed in the 1990s, he said.

Women won the right to vote and run for office in Kuwait in 2005. Kuwait's only woman cabinet minister Nouriya Al-Subaih survived a no-confidence vote in parliament in January, after being accused of legal and administrative irregularities.

Al-Subaih’s female cabinet colleague, Massouma Al-Mubarak, stepped down as health minister in August due to pressure from Islamist colleagues.

According to a 2007 UN development report, Kuwait women face legal inequality in personal status laws, including discrimination in court proceedings, divorce and inheritance decisions.

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