Freetown, Sierra Leone | AFP | Women from Sierra Leone can now pass on their nationality to their children, following the passage of what women’s rights groups said Friday was a landmark change in the law for gender equality.
Until the new Citizenship Amendment Act was passed on Wednesday, Sierra Leonean women were denied the right to hand down citizenship to their children born abroad, causing problems for the diaspora community and exacerbating statelessness.
“The new law shows that Sierra Leone is gradually getting to having gender parity like other countries around the world,” said Fatou Taqi of the women’s rights group 50/50.
“Several Sierra Leonean women living in the diaspora married and unmarried with children had been disadvantaged over the years,” she added. “We are very happy.”
Just 25 countries in the world still deny women the right to pass on their citizenship, according to the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights.
Taqi said much more remained to be done to further women’s rights in the poor west African nation, however.
Sierra Leone has the unwelcome distinction of the world’s highest maternal mortality rate, according to the World Health Organization, along with high rates of sexual violence and an extremely high prevalence of female genital mutilation.