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Zeinab and Manal

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Published on Mar 7, 2012

"It is an obstacle to everything: marriage, work... everything."
Zeinab and Manal Shehayib were born in Baalbek, Lebanon to an Egyptian father and Lebanese mother. Their father died when the children were young, before he took the steps necessary to pass on his Egyptian citizenship to them. Under Lebanese law, a mother cannot pass on citizenship on to her children. The sisters are, as a result, stateless. The lack of identity papers has made it difficult to find work. Despite a three year course in hotel management, Zeinab, 25, has difficulty earning a living wage. It is hard to travel. When she was a student, Zeinab won an all expenses paid scholarship to Canada for her high marks, but had to turn it down because she had no passport. The sisters continue to appeal to the Lebanese government for citizenship. Lebanon is one of at least 25 countries which do not allow women to confer nationality on their children. UNHCR is working with governments around the world to achieve universal gender equality in nationality matters.
"In our country, Lebanese men go abroad and they take the nationality of their foreign wives, but if a foreigner comes to Lebanon he can't take his wife's nationality." says Zeinab. "I would hope that the Lebanese government and other Arab governments would respect women and allow them to pass on nationality."

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