EWL News

Belgium - Reform of nationality law will make things more difficult for women, say EWL members

[Brussels, 20 July 2012] The Belgian women’s association Femmes Prévoyantes Socialistes, a member of the Belgian Coordination for the EWL, has condemned in a press release a government agreeement for new rules regarding the acquisition of Belgian nationality. Economic criteria have been introduced and put women at a disadvantage.

The six ruling parties came to an agreement to reduce the number of administrative procedures which allow foreigners to apply for Belgian nationality and naturalisation.

New criteria have been introduced, such as knowledge of one of the three official languages, or proof of a good social, economic and cultural integration. The most contentious is the requirement of 468 full-time working days out of five years of continuous stay on Belgian territory.

This last economic criteria is highlihgted in the FPS press release. The requirement of such a long and intense period of work is discriminatory for women, as they compose the majority of part-time workers. Indeed, in 2009, around 31% of women and 21% of men between 25 and 74 were in part-time employment, according to the European Commission. [1]

diversity hands together

Those trends are notably explained by the facts that "feminised" work sectors are more likely to propose part-time contracts (retail, cleaning companies...). Moreover, the lack of appropriate childcare structures combined with the traditional family keeper role assigned to women can push them to take part-time jobs.

As a consequence part-time jobs make it difficult for migrants women to apply for Belgian nationality. The FPS condemns this male-based and elitist criteria, and the exacerbation of a rhetoric based on a subjective conception of merit.

In Belgium, only the ecologist party has spoken against this economic criteria. The socialist party congratulated this agreement for making the criteria "more objective". Other parties such as the Flemish N-VA declared that they will vote in favour of the agreement. [2]

[1Unit D-1 Employment analysises of DG-Empl, Study "Recent development in the EU-27 labour market for young people aged 15-29", 2010

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