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Why Do Egyptian Men Refuse To Reveal Their Mother’s Name?

March 22, 2015

By UN Women

For men in Egypt and in many other countries in the Middle East, there is a peculiar taboo of not disclosing one’s mother’s name in public, lest her name become a subject of shame and ridicule in public forums. Over time, her name becomes forgotten and she’s only referred to as ‘The mother of her eldest son’.

UN Women’s ‘Give Mom Back Her Name’ initiative is simple yet powerful and aims to take steps to eradicate this taboo and giving mothers in Egypt and the Middle East their names back in public fora.

Mohammed Naciri, UN Women Regional Director, says, “A woman’s name should never be associated with shame or embarrassment – 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.”

The initiative is created together with IMPACT BBDO Dubai and aims to open a larger conversation of women´s rights and gender equality in the Middle East and the world.

While the region has many challenges to overcome to reach gender equality, such initiatives aim to change the fabric of society at community levels; including questioning cultural norms and ultimately striving towards building an inclusive, equal society.​

As a sign of appreciation for a lifetime of love, thank Mom with one small gift: give Mom back her name.

Change your twitter profile picture to your mothers name and #MyMothersNameIs …. Let the world know she gave her all to raise you.

Comments (77)

  1. san says:

    I found out my grandmothers name when i was like ten or something. I live overseas, but we have an apartment in Egypt. But since we’re not there all the time, not many people know us. This lady came up to me to ask me who my parents were. I told her their names. For my mother she asked me “laaken hiyya ommo meen?”. In other words, she was asking “but who’s mother is she”, so when they meet she can adress her properly. I wasn’t really bothered by it, but it’s a weird concept tome to not call someone by their real name. For myself also, I call the wife of the bawaab also “mother of …”. I feel its inappropriate to ask for her real name because she never introduced herself by her real name.

    1. NR says:

      Our maid also called herself “mother of …” but didn’t keep her name a secret. We asked her what she preferred to be called. She was surprised and kind of shy when she answered that she preferred to be called by her own name. It all comes down to expectations of what is considered appropriate. Whether it’s also what all those mothers would prefer, I don’t know.

  2. Muslimah says:

    I know my husbands mothers name and he told me when we first met and he is Egyptian so I don’t think this is true.

    1. Egyptian says:

      It’s true, but maybe your husband thought it was undeserved too and ignored the tradition.

    2. It is true. Not everyone does it and it’ll depend on one’s level of education but it is a bad habit that’s present in Egypt (and many other Arab countries).