Sierra Leone reforms citizenship law
Sierra Leone recently enacted a landmark law that allows mothers to pass on citizenship to their children, even in circumstances where a child is born out of the country. Prior to enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act, only fathers were legally allowed to confer citizenship, which had deleterious effects on women and children and exacerbated the problem of intergenerational statelessness among the Sierra Leonean diaspora. The change received broad support in the legislature and praise from women’s rights groups. Sierra Leone joins a number of countries that have taken steps to amend citizenship laws in recent years, including Kenya, Monaco, Niger, Senegal, Suriname, and Yemen. However, according to the World Bank, twenty-two countries—including eight in Sub-Saharan Africa—still do not permit married mothers to pass on citizenship to children on the same basis as fathers.
World Bank launches $1 billion fund for women entrepreneurs
Last week on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, the World Bank officially launched a new financing facility for female entrepreneurs in developing countries. The Women Entrepreneurs Financing Initiative (We-Fi) aims to provide more than $1 billion in capital for women-led small-and-medium-enterprises. The fund, which builds on the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, has drawn commitments from nations around the world, including a $50 million contribution from the United States, as well as support from the governments of Canada, Germany, and Japan, among others. Some critics, however, expressed skepticism about founding contributions by Saudi Arabia and the UAE—regimes with track records of infringing upon women’s rights—who will help guide implementation of the initiative.
London Family Planning Summit addresses funding shortage
Participants in last week’s global Family Planning Summit, held in London on World Population Day, pledged over $2.5 billion in new funding to improve and expand the reach of family planning services globally, which has been shown to improve global health and economic development. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the summit’s co-host and the largest non-governmental donor to family planning initiatives, committed $375 million—a 60 percent increase on its previous budget. Several nations also made significant pledges, including India, which pledged to spend $3 billion to target eight states within its own country that lack safe family planning services, and governments across Asia and Africa pledged $1.5 billion to launch of several new partnerships with the private sector to improve access to family planning. Participants in the summit suggested that such initiatives and government funding are crucial at a time when progress on family planning has stalled, and the world’s largest bilateral donor—the United States—is withdrawing aid.