UAE: Granting health and education benefits to children of female citizens limits but does not end discrimination

Geneva – The decision by the President of the United Arab Emirates to treat the children of female citizens on an equal footing with the children of male citizens in the health and education sectors is a step towards reducing discrimination, but does not will not completely end it, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said.

The decision announced by the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is only a partial solution to the problem, as it provides the children of Emirati women residing in the country with education and health benefits after years of marginalization.

Health and education are important sectors, and such inclusion will reduce the heavy burdens on the families of Emirati mothers, but gaps will remain until the resolution covers all other governmental, professional, economic and social sectors.

After the publication of the decision, Euro-Med Monitor contacted the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, requesting clarification regarding the aforementioned sectors and groups excluded from the decision, but did not receive a response.

For many years, the children of Emirati women have faced multiple forms of discrimination across all sectors, including denial of equal access to health insurance, employment opportunities and education. education. This treatment has had negative effects on their social and family life, and it has become difficult for them to marry given the restrictions and marginalization they face.

The government of the United Arab Emirates has recently made efforts to improve the situation of women in the country, as it has adopted reforms that include the adoption of measures to protect women against domestic violence. However, women and girls still face discrimination in many important aspects of their lives.
Any changes to laws that are unjust and discriminatory against women are welcome, but there is an urgent need to fundamentally reform the current system, in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on sex.

The nationality law of the United Arab Emirates should be completely amended, as it discriminates against women and vulnerable groups and discriminates between men and women with regard to the granting of citizenship to their children. The law deprives Emirati mothers married to foreigners of the right to transmit their nationality to their children. It also deprives stateless persons of all citizenship rights.

Although UAE law grants Emirati mothers the right to apply for citizenship for their children if they have lived in the UAE for six years, and allows children who have reached the age of 18 to apply for citizenship themselves, the most women face complicated legal procedures that can drag on for years before getting approval.

At the same time, children of Emirati men are granted citizenship at birth without restriction, even if their mothers are not Emirati.

Further changes to the country’s nationality law, which perpetuates its ‘second-class citizen’ crisis and reinforces gender-based violence, are urgently needed.
The law can encourage domestic violence; for example, Emirati women living abroad with an abusive foreign husband cannot flee to the UAE with their children, whose nationality is linked only to their non-Emirati father.

Article 9 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which the UAE signed in 2004, states: “1. States Parties shall grant women rights equal to those of men in acquiring, changing or retaining their nationality. They shall ensure in particular that neither marriage to a foreigner nor change of nationality of the husband during the marriage automatically modifies the nationality of the woman, renders her stateless or imposes on her the nationality of the husband. 2. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children”.

The President of the United Arab Emirates should enact a package of comprehensive legislative amendments to harmonize local laws with international human rights law and charters, stop the development of partial solutions to larger problems and provide real safeguards for the enjoyment of human rights by all segments of society. .

All prejudice and discrimination against women must be stopped and the structural gaps that affect the rights of many people, such as the right to freedom of opinion and expression, civil liberties and related rights to political participation, must be resolved.

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