As the world continues its path to increased globalisation, it seems almost bizarre that there was once a time when international perception towards dual citizenship differed greatly compared to attitudes of today – and even more so if you were a woman.
Historically, in many parts of the world, a woman’s citizenship was intrinsically tethered towards her relationship with the men in her life, whether that be a father or a husband. In the United States, women were forced to give up their citizenship once marrying a foreign-born citizen, a law introduced in the 1907 Expatriation Act. During World War I, this sentiment only intensified with American-born women forced to register as ‘enemy aliens’ once married to a German or Italian immigrant.
However, this all changed in 1920 after women obtained voting rights. One of the first issues addressed after universal suffrage was the sexist nationality laws that were stringent not only in America but across the globe. International Women’s Rights Movements – such as the International Alliance of Women – participated in campaigning, lobbying and raising awareness on the lack of laws recognising a woman’s right to individual citizenship.
Eventually, the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women was passed by the United Nations General Assembly in August 1958. The convention set out to give women equal rights in alliance with Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which ensures that everyone has a right to nationality.
Over six decades later, while there may still be several nations that forbid second citizenship, it cannot be denied that views surrounding the topic have changed drastically. Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon to meet someone with additional citizenships or dual nationality. In fact, more than two-thirds of countries now allow dual citizenship, a number that will inevitably continue to rise.
Not only has dual citizenship become the new normal, but the idea of citizenship has also evolved throughout time. For the last few decades, countries across the globe have been implementing programmes – known as ‘Citizenship by Investment’ – that offer investors and their families citizenship in exchange for a monetary contribution. With this citizenship comes increased security, business opportunities, mobility and the option to pass down that citizenship to future generations to come. The practice was shaped in the Caribbean in islands such as Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis but has spread to nations across Europe, Oceania and the Middle East.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, here at CS Global Partners, we remember the women who fought for their individual right to citizenship and the doors it opened for the rest of the international community.