Gender, Nationality and Naturalization

Declaration in view of requesting a husband’s French nationality (front), 1939.  (Individual files for naturalization requests by marriage created according to the law decree of November 12, 1938, 6 M 1287, file 318/24 DX40).


Nationality, which was born with the emergence of nation states, is a legal connection between an individual and a state. While nationals formed a homogeneous group, the rights and obligations relating to citizenship differed notably according to gender. The same was true of the transmission, acquisition, or conservation of nationality. This discrimination, which affected wives in particular, prompted protests by feminist groups from the early twentieth century onwards, who overcame resistance to ensure equal rights to nationality in many countries. In practice, gender has also had an influence on the granting of nationality.