On Int’l Women’s Day, Congress urged to make naturalization laws ‘gender-responsive’ 

In time for the celebration of International Women’s Day, three legislators in the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking to make the nation’s naturalization laws “gender-responsive.”

Rep. Edcel Lagman, Rep. Edward Maceda, and Rep. Arjo Atayde today filed House Bill No. 7527 or “An Act Ensuring Gender Equality in Naturalization Laws”. The bill seeks to amend Section 15 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, known as “The Revised Naturalization Law,” and Section 12 of Republic Act No. 9139, known as “The Administrative Naturalization Law”.

The authors emphasized that the campaign for gender equality and equity should be reflected in the nation’s fundamental pieces of legislation, emphasizing that currently, naturalization laws remain skewed toward discriminating against women

Veteran lawmaker and women’s rights advocate Rep. Edcel Lagman said, “Our naturalization laws date back to the 1930s. Despite several amendments, the laws still carry gender discrimination. Section 15 of C.A. No. 473 provides for the automatic conferment of derivative citizenship from husband to wife, depriving a woman of her right to choose her nationality. On the other hand, Section 12 of R.A. 9139 provides that the administrative naturalization of a married woman will not grant her alien husband the option of derivative citizenship; in other words, a woman, unlike a man, cannot confer her citizenship to her spouse.”

“The amendments of these provisions are long overdue. It’s 2023; it’s about time we amend these antiquated and discriminatory provisions,” Lagman added.

The legislators also highlighted the role of women in nation-building and the state’s constitutional mandate to ensure the fundamental equality of women and men before the law.

“The Philippines is identified as one of the states that continue to have distinctions in conferral and acquisition or retention of citizenship. Hopefully, through the proposed amendments, we can fill this gap. Through this bill, we are fulfilling our obligations as a state party to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. This is also a huge step in making our naturalization laws consistent with R.A. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, which has been a significant advancement in the advocacy of women’s rights,” added Rep. Arjo Atayde, who co-authored the bill.

“We call for the co-authorship of our colleagues in Congress to this bill as we continue to uphold the rights and welfare of women. Remember that we can never fully progress as a nation if we do not confront and purge gender discriminatory provisions in our laws,” Atayde added, urging other lawmakers to support the proposed amendments.

The Philippine Legislators Committee on Population Development (PLCPD), a non-government organization working with policymakers and other stakeholders toward policy reform for inclusive, empowering, and sustainable development, expressed its full support for the bill through its Executive Director Rom Dongeto.

“We express our full support to this bill authored by Representatives Lagman, Maceda, and Atayde in time for International Women’s Day. We hope this bill is prioritized and gathers more support from legislators in both the House of Representatives and Senate,” Dongeto stated.

“The right to nationality is a right to access basic rights and must be enjoyed fully by all persons regardless of gender,” Dongeto concluded.


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