The earth has been inhabited by our ancestors for around 6 million years; Homo sapiens evolved 200,000 years ago; the industrial revolution propelled people to advancements in the 1800s. The rest is history.
Arab women's right to pass on their citizenship to their children should also become history, but it hasn't not yet. In the Arab world, some countries don't allow women who marry men of different nationalities to grant either the husband or the child citizenship. The result of such regressive thinking, sexist laws, and racist and sectarian fears is millions of families struggling to live together.
Children of Arab women who are denied this right have to apply for a visa/residency to live with their mothers. Even when granted one, these children are practically treated like foreigners in their own country. In contrast, Arab men who marry non-nationals can immediately pass on citizenship.
Here are others that have yet to follow in their footsteps:
1. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has been making strides when it comes to empowering women but has yet to grant them their right to pass on nationality. This has made the situation pretty complex for thousands of children born to Saudi mothers and non-Saudi fathers. Many of these children reside in the kingdom but have to apply for residency just as any other expat would.
Given that the country implements the kafala system, these kids cannot obtain residency permits in the country unless they are sponsored by a Saudi national. Usually, they're sponsored by their mothers, but if she passes away, another Saudi sponsor must take that role.
The struggles that Saudi women married to foreigners have to face prompted the country's Shoura Council to call on the urgent passing of a bill granting them the right to give their children permanent residency in the country. The bill was proposed by members Latifa Al-Shaalan, Faisal Al-Fadel, Lina Almaeena, Noura Al-Musaed, and Huda Al-Holaisi earlier this week. Its discussion comes at a time when the country's "Ministry of Justice disclosed about a surge in cases of marriage of Saudi women to foreigners."
Though the UAE has been making reforms to laws governing women's rights to pass on nationality, children born to Emirati women and non-national fathers are still not automatically entitled to the country's citizenship.
So what can UAE women married to foreign men do to get their children nationalized? Changes in the UAE's nationality legislation have given Emirati mothers the right to apply for citizenship on behalf of their children if they've lived in the UAE for at least six years.
Since 2011, children born to mixed-nationality couples have also been allowed to apply for an Emirati passport when they turn 18. Over the years, hundreds have been granted citizenship after applying for it.
Earlier this year, 3,354 children born to Emirati mothers and non-Emirati fathers received the country's citizenship under a directive issued by the UAE's President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Women's rights activists in Lebanon have repeatedly called for the amendment of Lebanon's 1925 nationality law which denies women married to foreign men the right to pass on their citizenship to their children and spouses.
Lebanese politicians have long argued against amending the nationality law, claiming that granting Lebanese citizenship to Palestinian men married to Lebanese women would disturb Lebanon's sectarian balance. However, a 2016 census of Palestinians in Lebanon found only 3,707 cases "of a Palestinian head of household married to a spouse of a different nationality," according to the HRW. Therefore, the arguments against amendments to the law are baseless, racist and sexist.
As the controversial law continues to be implemented, non-citizen children and spouses face a multitude of struggles affecting various aspects of their lives. They are required to reapply for legal residency in Lebanon every one to three years and to obtain a permit to work in the country. They are also denied access to national health insurance and government-subsidized medical care, as well as are discriminated against in public schools, universities, and the job market.
An estimated 84,711 Jordanian women are married to non-citizens and statistics reveal that these families include about 338,000 children. These hundreds of thousands of children live in the country on residency visas though most of them were born and raised in Jordan.
In a statement to Roya News, Rami Alwakeel, a campaigner and organizer behind the "My mother is Jordanian and her nationality is a right for me" initiative, said he believes amendments to laws denying women their right to pass on citizenship is vital.
"In November 2014, the government announced what rights they will have, however Jordanian women's children are still treated like foreigners when it comes to property rights, obtaining a driving license, and also when it comes to investing in Jordan," he explained.
Speaking to Roya, Mohammed Shamma, a reporter at Journalist for Human Rights (JHR), stood by Al Wakeel's point, saying laws preventing women from giving their children citizenship go against the country's constitution.
"The Jordanian Constitution states that all Jordanians are equal despite their gender, religion, and any other differences. The government should act accordingly with the Constitution and laws," he said.
The country's nationality law stipulates that "A Kuwaiti is any person born to a Kuwaiti father in or outside Kuwait." Under it, Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis are not allowed to pass on their citizenship to their children.
The only situations that allow for the offspring of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners to get the nationality are when the father passes away or when the mother gets a divorce.
Given that the children of women who marry foreigners aren't automatically granted citizenship, rights organizations have continued to call on the Gulf state to reform its nationality laws.