The Daily Star (Lebanon) - UAE decision on nationality law highlights need for new approach
- The Daily Star (Lebanon) - SATURDAY, 03 DEC 2011
UAE decision on nationality law highlights need for new approach
December 02, 2011 02:51 AM
By Olivia Alabaster
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: As the United Arab Emirates became the eighth Arab state to
grant equal nationality rights to women Wednesday, campaigners in
Lebanon warn the domestic struggle still has some way to go.
Currently, Lebanese women who marry foreigners can’t pass their
nationality onto their children, unlike Lebanese men. Activists have
been campaigning on the issue for years, having first presented a draft
law to Parliament in 2005.
Ghida Anani, founder and director of Abaad, a Beirut-based regional
gender research center, said the UAE decision might give some
encouragement to other Arab countries, but that Lebanon was a very
“Here we have the issue of the Palestinians, of confessionalism, and
of quotas,” said Anani.
Many believe the introduction of the law would lead to the
naturalization of Palestinian refugees married to Lebanese women,
however a U.N. study showed in 2010 that only 18,000 Lebanese women had
married non-Lebanese men between 1995 and 2008.
The campaign in Lebanon, Anani believes, needs a fresh approach.
“The campaign is losing momentum. I sense there is frustration and
activists are not pushing hard enough on decision-makers.
“We need new and concrete arguments,” Anani added. “Politicians must
Metn MP Ghassan Moukheiber, a member of Parliament’s Human Rights
Committee who has publicly supported the nationality campaign for years,
agrees that the struggle needs a new angle.
“We must find a solution to this problem, but this will only happen if
we have a dialogue which addresses the concerns and fears of the people
and the parliamentarians,” he said.
“We need to sit down with the key players and conduct straight talk
about how we can improve the lives of Lebanese women,” he said. “We need
to discuss the problems that no one wants to talk about publicly.”
Lina Abou Habib, executive director of the Collective for Research and
Training on Development – Action, a Beirut-based regional gender
equality center, sees encouragement in September’s decision by Labor
Minister Charbel Nahhas to grant the right to work to the non-Lebanese
spouses and children of Lebanese women.
CRTD is continuing to lobby MPs to study the draft law and is also
conducting an extensive study on the daily ramifications that the
absence of such a law has on the lives of Lebanese women.
The center is also encouraging Lebanese women to “be more vocal in
demanding their rights. To consider what are the potentials and
possibilities of active citizenship,” Habib said.
“I do believe there are solutions to these problems,” Moukheiber said,
“We just need to find them.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily
Star on December 02, 2011, on page 3.