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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Loulia, You'll Love This!

Thursday, March 09, 2006
Women's Day underscores citizenship rights proposal
By Meris Lutz Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: International Women's Day may have passed quietly for most people, but all Lebanese - men and women - may soon have reason to celebrate if MP Ghinwa Jalloul's proposal to extend the citizenship rights to women succeeds.
The proposal, which Jalloul submitted two weeks ago, would allow women to pass on their nationality to their children and spouses, giving them equal citizenship rights to men.
Jalloul said pressing security concerns and Parliament's National Dialogue make it difficult to give the issue the attention it deserves, but that "we will not wait forever; Mothers' Day is on the 21, if we couldn't do it for women's day it could be on Mothers' Day."
There is no doubt that the Lebanese woman's lot has improved over the years, if slowly. Before 1946 a Lebanese woman who married a foreigner would lose her Lebanese nationality, and just three years ago working women were unable to receive fringe benefits like health care. Now, thanks to Jalloul, they not only receive those benefits but so do their children, regardless of nationality.
"The reason citizenship hasn't been dealt with before is that it's a cultural issue; citizenship is something related to blood, and this is through the father only in Lebanon," she said.
Jalloul also said politicians were afraid that allowing women to pass their nationality on to their husbands and children would disturb the delicate balance of the confessional system and open the door to Palestinian assimilation.
"Women, in many respects, have come a long way," she said, adding: "I would want to see the cultural barrier that prevents women from moving forward brought down completely. ... Men have been ahead of women for a long time."
The theme of women's citizenship rights was echoed at AUB on Wednesday, when the Women's Right's Club and the Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action (CRTDA) hosted a panel discussion, "My Nationality, a Right for Me and My Family," after three days of hard campaigning.
Women's Rights Club president Rania Jaber opened the discussion by announcing the campaign had collected over 450 signatures for their petition to change the law that prevents women from passing their citizenship on to their families.
The panel consisted of two lawyers, Iqbal Doughan, president of the Working Women League in Lebanon, and Ossama Salman; as well as Nadira Nahas who is married to a non-national, and Gina Bashier Muhyeldeen, who doesn't have Lebanese citizenship as her father is Iraqi.
"Why should we be forced to leave the country we grew up in?" asked Muhyeldeen, a law student.
"I can't work here, and in Iraq there's a war. I need to help my mom, but I can't. My brother has to go to work in Iraq in the middle of the war even though he was born here," she added.
The panel called on the government to change any law that prevented women from having the same rights as men, in accordance with the Lebanese Constitution, article 7 of which says men and women should be treated as equal citizens.
"We need to continue to fight in this country because it is our country and no one can take out rights," Muhyeldeen said. "We're either citizens or we're not, where's the Switzerland of the Middle East?"

Copyright (c) 2006 The Daily Star

Comments on "Loulia, You'll Love This!"


Blogger callipyge said ... (4:10 PM) : 

I love this indeed! I never doubted, though, that there were movements that sought to obtain this right for women. I hope the government will stop refusing to grant us this right because of the palestinian and confessional issue. This is getting ridiculous.
What saddened me, though, was to read the Egyptian women DO have the right to pass on their citizenship to their foreign husbands and children... as long as they are not palestinian!
I dont wear the Keffieh nor am I a militant for the palestinian cause, but the way the Palestinian people are treated by their fellow arab brothers and sisters is really angering me.
The sad part, is that I can perfectly imagine the Lebanese government passing a similar law in the future: giving Lebanese women the right to Lebanize their spouses as long as they are not palestinian.. I don't really think this would be a step forward.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:07 PM) : 

Moroccan women can pass on their citizenship. This is the new change in our family law. I am so happy about that. I am pregnant and my baby will be Moroccan too.

I hope Lebanon will pass on this law


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