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Good Practices Brochure: Stateless Women and Girls

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Introduction

Millions of people are believed to be stateless – they are not considered as nationals of any county. The exact number of stateless people is unknown; however, according to statistics reported at the end of 2019, there are 4.1 million stateless people worldwide – over 50 per cent of them in Asia and the Pacific. People become stateless for a variety of reasons; gaps or conflicting provisions in nationality law, discrimination against ethnic or religious groups, or lack of identity documentation over generations. It also occurs due to gender discrimination. Some 25 States do not allow women to transfer nationality to their children, and statelessness can occur where fathers are stateless, unknown, deceased, or where the laws of the fathers’ country do not permit conferral of nationality.

Stateless women and girls experience particular gender-related barriers, and the pandemic further exacerbated their vulnerability. Increased sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence, and unprecedented socioeconomic impacts have threatened their lives. Extra caregiving at home, often without personal protection equipment, school dropouts due to excess demands at home, increased forced marriage and early pregnancy are the major factors that threaten to reverse hard-won gains on gender equality. Collaboration among international and regional organizations, civil society organizations and stateless people is essential to resolve existing significant situations of statelessness and prevent new cases from emerging. Global action must support the full participation and leadership of refugee, displaced and stateless women in crisis response and recovery plans.

The Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, 2014–2024 was developed in consultation with States, civil society and international organizations setting out a guiding framework made up of 10 Actions – one of which is to remove gender discrimination from nationality laws5. In November 2014, the #IBelong Campaign was launched to bring about global collaboration to end statelessness within 10 years. Also, it directly advances target 16.9 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration. Ending statelessness also contributes to SDG targets related to gender equality, education, work and health, among others. The United Nations SecretaryGeneral has provided guidance to the United Nations system on institutional arrangements to improve its coordinated response to statelessness.

At the eightieth meeting of the Standing Committee of the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 23–25 March 2021, the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), representing a wide range of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), delivered the NGO Statement on Asia and the Pacific. The statement urges UNHCR and States in the region to address the severe ongoing rights violations affecting refugees, especially women and girls. It also highlights that in order to sharpen the gender focus of a response, it is important to consider the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and other (LGBTIQ+) people alongside those experienced by women and girls.

This brochure aims to provide practical guidance on including stateless women and girls in humanitarian programming and coordination by highlighting five case studies that illustrate good practices and examples in humanitarian settings. The NGO Statement on Asia and the Pacific emphasizes protecting and access rights for displaced and stateless women and girls and gender-diverse people. Their participation in the risk and impact assessments and COVID-19 response plan is essential to be inclusive and gender-responsive.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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