Did you know it is considered taboo in Egypt to speak your mother’s name aloud? It’s a worrying custom, completely foreign to us in the West, even though we generally refer to the woman who raised us as only Mammy.
UN Women want to challenge this Egyptian custom and are starting to initiate change with this great video from the Impact BBDO agency of Dubai. It’s a two-minute long video called “Give Mom Back Her Name” and coincided with Mother’s Day in the Middle East, which fell on March 21st. In the clip, Egyptian men are interviewed vox pop style and asked to say their mother’s name. They refuse. Why? In some areas of the Middle East it is considered unacceptable to do so, for fear ridicule will follow. One man says that it would make him cry if people knew his mother’s name. It’s a perplexing watch for us here in Ireland to process.
The consequences of this practice of not naming to avoid shaming are sobering and sad. Women’s’ names are forgotten over time; they become known only as the wife of, the mother of. In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, women kept as slaves in the houses of the upper classes for baby breeding purposes are known by names such as Offred. Literally ‘of Fred’, the male in charge of the home.
UN Women use this video to ask men to shake this old custom away and be proud of their mother’s name by changing their social media profile photos to her name. Under the hashtag #MyMothersNameIs, the campaign wants men to change decades of thinking, and to value the women in their life as equal creatures that deserve recognition. It’s a pretty great first step, and the video shows how young men are finally embracing change. Have a watch below.
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun