These days in the U.S., some women, for various reasons, may still choose to give up their last name when they get married. But in some countries, when women marry, they’re forced to give up their names entirely–first and last. For some men in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, it’s a mark of embarrassment and shame to share their mother’s name with friends and colleagues. Women become known only as “the mother of her eldest son.” In short, their identity is stolen from them.
To celebrate Middle Eastern Mother’s Day last weekend, UN Women and Impact BBDO Dubai launched the “Give Mom Back Her Name” campaign, urging men across the region to replace their Twitter photos with an image of their mother’s first name and then tweet that name with the hashtag #MyMothersNameIs. It’s only a small step toward gender equality in the Middle East, but it’s a huge flouting of social norms. The video above demonstrates just how uncomfortable Egyptian men are when asked to speak their mother’s names aloud. And yet a woman’s name is a significant part of her identity. It’s a basic human right.
“A woman’s name should never be associated with shame or embarrassment,” Mohamed Naciri, UN Women’s regional director, said in a statement about the campaign. “This Mother’s Day, we are reclaiming that space and recognizing women for the incredible individuals they are, not only as the mother of her eldest son.”