Sudan Vision: Details: The Concept of Citizenship Interface With Gender Issues; Parts 1, 2, 3

Sunday, November 13, 2011
Sudan Vision
Eastern Africa


Citizenship is a term that refers to individual's rights, duties and obligations in a certain state. It entails or assures an individual sense of belonging, of shared love and loyalty between citizens to their country.

It defines the relationship between a state/government and the individual who carries the nationality of that country. Hence, nationality is a legal term that defines the relationship between the state and citizens. The term citizenship and its legal connotation that nationality imply that all bearers (citizens) of that nationality are equal in the rights they enjoy and duties they bear.
Citizenship used in the social sciences to indicate different types of belongings to a political community and rights that such belongings bring with it,

Citizenship in law is defined somewhat differently, where they legal bond between the stare and the individual is at the core.
Hence, modern states define citizenship and nationality interchangeably in a way that clearly define the civil rights and freedom that its citizens enjoy and subjects them to certain duties. States differ in the scope of these rights and freedoms to be enjoyed and also in defining the scope of justice and equality in accruing these rights and freedoms to some of the citizens and deny and undermine others. The justification for that inequality varies from being gender-based discrimination or decent, ethnic, racial-based discrimination among others.

Further linked to citizenship issues are identity aspects whereby it is assumed that those who carry same nationality should have a sense of a common identity needed to have common values, principles for nation building. The assumptions that strong states/nations are those where citizens have common identity is behind many separatist movements when states have citizens who consider themselves as having a different identity from that declared by the state or that of the majority of the population or that of the ruling hegemonic group. A feeling of being different and discriminated against due to that identity definition may lead to protest and liberation movements. A gender-based hierarchical identity, a patriarchal ideology that demise and subordinate women led to world extensive women liberation movements to acquire equality of value ad worth of identity as well as rights and freedoms.

The same happens for ethnic/racial, religious-based liberation movements. Recent developments in human rights/civil and economic rights/democracy-based liberation movements were undertaken to guarantee that equality and justice principles are truly applied for all citizens. Moreover, a demand for managing diverse identities on equal citizenship applying principles of equality and respect to fundamental human rights and good governance became more vocal and recurrent in all conventions and declarations whether of the UN or African Charter. These movements hence, relate between good managements of issues of diversity and identity through equal citizenship rights. That equal citizenship should not be discriminatory along the cross-cutting dimensions of gender, class, ethnicity, race, religion, sectarianism or ideology or political affiliation. The state through its constitution/law, policies and practices should guarantee equality of opportunities, wealth distribution and control as well as equality of civil, political, economic and socio-cultural rights.
A matrix can be drawn to indicate how far a state is managing diversity/identity and defines citizenship, nationality, along the gender, place of birth, race, ethnicity religion and dimensions.
The more a state applies international laws, conventions as part of its legal framework (constitution, laws), then it downsizes possibilities of exclusion, or marginalization by the politically powerful to other groups.

Further, these legal frameworks define all policies and programs of the state to realize the visions and ideologies that define these legal frameworks (constitution+laws) to guarantee that citizenship rights are defined to achieve justice and equality. The challenges that face countries especially after times of war and secessions are defining who are the citizens and the grounds of giving the nationality of the state.

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