Kyrgyzstan’s Combat Against StatelessnessIn Kyrgyzstan, statelessness has become a significant issue due to continuous internal and external migration and changes in the country’s borders since its independence in 1991. Statelessness occurs when a person is not recognized as a citizen of any functioning nation by law, often resulting from discrimination, migration, or conflicts between opposing nationalities.

Offering individuals a national identity is crucial, enabling access to education, employment, housing, health care and political rights like voting. Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to combat statelessness hold immense importance in ensuring the well-being and inclusion of affected individuals.

Global Aid to End Statelessness

To tackle Statelessness, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), created a Global Action Plan in 2014 titled the #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness. The goal of the program is to eliminate statelessness by 2024 by implementing 10 actions. These actions include removing gender discrimination from nationality laws and providing protection status to migrants. These actions serve as guidelines for countries dealing with this problem.

Through these National Action Plans, the UNHCR works closely with countries in implementing new laws, allying with them through a clear outline to end statelessness called the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and monitoring the country’s efforts to reduce and prevent statelessness. Despite their best efforts, cases in Kyrgyzstan continue to appear due to legal gaps, and legal barriers within the administration. 

In the same year the #IBelong Campaign began, Kyrgyzstan’s efforts against statelessness took off by joining the campaign and allying with the UNHCR. From 2014-2017, birth registration reached a high rate of 98%, and on July 4, 2019, Kyrgyzstan became the first country to solve the issue of statelessness.

With the UNHCR, the Kyrgyz Republic identified more than 13,000 stateless persons including 2,000 children. By obtaining a birth certificate and passport, the newly identified people of Kyrgyzstan took their first steps in acquiring a national identity.

Welcoming Children as Kyrgyzstan Citizens

Even though Kyrgyzstan has successfully fought against statelessness, it is essential to continue taking action to prevent the issue from recurring. Thus, on June 24, 2023, the Kyrgyzstan government in alignment with the #IBelong Campaign implemented a law that will provide birth certificates and registration for all children born in the nation regardless of whether or not their parents are undocumented or stateless, including children born prior to this new implementation.

In a 2022 survey conducted by the United Nations (UN), an estimated 5,000 families reportedly benefitted from this law. Alongside establishing a nationality, birth certificates ensure to ensure the protection of children’s rights. This is to help children obtain government assistance and access quality education.  

Without crucial legal rights, many stateless persons face disadvantages such as economic and political marginalization. Also, putting an end to statelessness can potentially uplift several thousands of people from extreme poverty by providing them with access to sufficient housing, employment opportunities and health care services.

Looking Ahead

Overall, Kyrgyzstan’s successful efforts to combat statelessness through the #IBelong Campaign and collaboration with the UNHCR have resulted in significant progress, granting several thousand individuals a national identity. And by eliminating statelessness, Kyrgyzstan is paving the way for improved living conditions and opportunities for its citizens, helping uplift them from poverty and marginalization.

– Kenzie Nguyen
Photo: Flickr

Women's rights in India
India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is the product of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) effort to formulate strict guidelines on the question of who is is not an Indian citizen. The CAA has damaging effects on women’s rights in India.

In December 2019 this harmful legislation became law. Two days after it passed through the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament, it was approved by the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament. To fulfill a BJP campaign promise, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind swiftly signed the CAA into law.


The CAA became law on December 12, 2019. Protests began immediately. On December 16, 2019, women gathered at Shaheen Bagh, a neighborhood in South Delhi, to protest the CAA.

These protests continue today, although tactics have shifted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters like Kanchan Yadav have utilized online channels in ongoing protests against the CAA. A highly controversial law, the CAA has devastating implications for India’s Muslim minority, as well as for women’s rights in India.

The Effect of the CAA on Women’s Rights in India

In order to secure one’s status as a citizen, the CAA requires Indians to provide scrupulous documentation proving that he or she has been an Indian citizen since before March 25, 1971, or that one’s family claims citizenship back to that date. Many Indian women lack such documents for various systemic reasons. For example, of the total number of child brides in India, half were married before the age of 15, prior to the age at which they would have begun what Americans think of as secondary education.

Illiteracy disproportionately affects Indian women compared with Indian men. Just over half of all women in India are literate, whereas the literacy rate of Indian men surges to over 80% of the male population. This disparity contributes to circumstances in which Indian women are more susceptible to unemployment, poverty and hunger than their male counterparts.

In rural areas, Indian women are often unemployed or underemployed. Less than 10% of the total number of households in India are headed by women. These factors contribute to the looming reality that when the BJP run government comes looking for proof of citizenship, many women will be unable to provide the required documents. Indian women whose citizenship is revoked as a result of BJP policy will lose their right to property and their right to vote.

Global Solidarity With Protests in India

In India, protests against the CAA are unrelenting. Indian women have rightfully identified the threat that the CAA poses to their already unsteady status in Indian society, and protests continue throughout the country and in the digital sphere. These protests are a big step in defense of women’s rights in India. From Shareen Bagh to San Francisco to South Africa, the call to civil disobedience resounds.

Taylor Pangman
Photo: Wikimedia