Gender Inequality at Forefront in Bahamas

Gender inequality regarding the transfer of citizenship could be remedied by taking the matter before an international court.

Rapporteurs at the 172nd session of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) highlighted longstanding concerns over the issue and noted the failure of two constitutional referenda signaled a critical need for public education, The Tribune reported.

According to Minister of State for Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson, the 2016 referendum cost the government over $1.57 million.

The matter was raised at the country’s thematic hearing in Jamaica on the rights of migrants and their children. However, Johnson argued that the largest number of persons affected by gendered provisions of the Constitution are Bahamian men and women and their descendants, not migrants.

“It is no secret that the Constitution of the Bahamas is not gender-neutral and treat men and women differently in and unequally with respect to their ability to transmit citizenship to their children and spouses,” he said, adding the government had spared no effort in trying to amend constitutional provisions.

Margarette Macaulay, IACHR’s Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, and Persons of African Descent and against Racial Discrimination, stressed the IACHR would prefer to work in partnership with the government instead of taking the matter to court.

Macaulay, a Jamaican jurist and pivotal figure in the the regional women’s movement, served as a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights from 2007 to 2012. During that time, she contributed to the formulation of the Court’s Rules of Procedure.

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