Womens Learning Partnership: for Rights, Development and Peace


I’ve been meaning to write about this wonderful network - the Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) - before but have been procrastinating.

No time like the present:

In a nutshell, they’re about female empowerment as part of human equality, and positive thinking : they’re a network of networks - they work with 18 autonomous and independent partner organizations in the Global South, particularly in Muslim-majority societies, to “empower women to transform their families, communities, and societies.”

One of their particular campaigns that I wanted to highlight is ‘Claiming Equal Citizenship‘: the Campaign for Arab Women’s Right to Nationality.

Women’s right to equal citizenship is guaranteed by the majority of Arab constitutions, as well as by international law. Yet across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Gulf, women are denied their right to nationality – a crucial component of citizenship.

In almost every country in the MENA and Gulf regions, women who marry men of other nationalities cannot confer their original nationality to their husbands or children. Only fathers, not mothers, can confer their nationality to their children.

Discriminatory laws denying women equal nationality rights undermine women’s status as equal citizens in their home countries. Such laws send the message that women do not enjoy a direct relationship with the state, but must access their citizenship rights through mediation of a male family member, such as a father or a husband. Until women in the MENA and Gulf regions are recognized as full nationals and citizens, they cannot participate fully in public life, nor claim the other rights to which they are entitled as equal members of their societies.

The denial of women’s nationality rights also created real suffering for dual nationality families living in the woman’s home country. Children and spouses are treated as foreigners and must obtain costly residence permits. Children are often excluded from social services such as social security, healthcare and subsidized or free access to education. In many countries, spouses and children have limited employment opportunities and are unable to own property. In terms of psychological impact, many women feel isolated and guilty because they feel responsible for the difficulties faced by their families, while children suffer from low self-esteem because of their second-class status.

I have written about this problem as affecting Bangladeshi women in the past - not being able to confer nationality upon their children - as it is passed through the father. Essentially this is how I found out about this campaign, one of the WLP activists commented upon my post and pointed me to their work.

The goals of the campaign are to call for

  • Legal reform enabling women to confer their nationality to their husbands and children without condition
  • Full implementation of reformed nationality laws and equal access to these laws for all women
  • Recognition of women as equal citizens in all areas of life

Please sign the petitions to support equal rights to citizenship for men and women.

Your signature sends a message of support to partners, who can use the international visibility to strengthen their advocacy efforts for amending nationality laws.



  1. anothervoice wrote:

    I am so happy that you stopped procrastinating, thank you for the post. Where do I sign up, what can I do, I want to be in the gang. I live in the Middle East and would love to get information to educate my Muslim sisters that accept themselves as lesser beings. Really thank you for this information.


  2. sonia wrote:

    hi another voice! if you sign the petition that would be great, and pass the word along - also there is a survey on the site for women to fill in - if you fill that in too and encourage others to do so, that’s very useful. the survey is designed to understand the extent of this problem across the world - i think there are many countries where this kind of action needs to be happening. if we can all link up and add our voice, that would be great.


  3. Thara wrote:

    Given that Sonia and her pal Faisal Ghazi (’Sid’) have been spraying various internet forums eg. Serious Golmal and Pickled Politics with Anti Sylheti Bengali ‘expert’ commentary these past months, I think Sonia’s support for female self-empowerment is hypocritical. Deal with the darkness within your own heart first sweetie.

  4. sonia wrote:

    i’m afraid you’re the bitter one around here Thara, i hope for your own sake you sort that out whatever it is that is bothering you. if you perceive other people are sounding ’superior’ - perhaps they are, but maybe you need to consider if there is something in your own mindset that is reacting negatively. granted that i apologised to you on the main thread for anything that may have come across as ‘offensive’ as i certainly hadn’t intended to do so - and it is so easy on the net to misread someone, but you don’t seem to have responded to that, which is a bit sad, but up to you of course, if you want to carry a chip on your shoulder, and overlook my olive branch. { especially when i don’t think i have made any anti-sylheti commentary ! :-) i don’t spend my time thinking about the various bengali groups etc. at all - it’s not something on my radar but clearly, seeing as you are writing a book on British Sylhetis, is on yours. I’m not british, most bengalis in Bangladesh and elsewhere consider me a complete outsider, i’m not from dhaka, and i don’t think you know much about me to be able to ‘box’ me in this sylheti/dhakaiya divide you seem to be interested in. but good luck with your research} ..but im willing to see it from your perspective that you may have found something i said offensive. ) if you’re looking for a fight, i suggest you go somewhere else, i’m not really that petty -there are far too many important things to be thinking about. and this kind of ‘bitching’ is just a waste of time - i mean no offense to you or anyone else. i’m sure of course if you want a fight there are plenty of folk on the net who’d be happy to take you up.
    good luck :-)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *