Why Men In Egypt Won't Say Their Mother's Name

In Egypt and many other Middle Eastern countries, it is considered shameful for someone to know your mother's name, the result being that eventually women's names often disappear. But a UN Women's #MyMothersNameIs campaign, which encourages men to reveal their mothers' names via social media, is looking to change that. Because a woman's name isn't shameful. It's just her name.

Mohammed Naciri, the regional director of UN Women explained, “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."

Obviously, every country has their own traditions and customs that can be misconstrued by outsiders. However, I do find it telling that, in the video, men trying to explain why they cannot reveal their mother's name in public talk about the potential personal fall out for themselves, not their mothers. Men are worried that someone will use their mother's name to make fun of them or shame them, not that their mother might feel uncomfortable or upset with having people know her name. And while I'm definitely all for women having their privacy respected in whatever ways they choose (even when it seems strange from my cultural vantage point), it seems that this de facto erasure of women's identities has more to do with men's delicate feelings than women's discomfort.

So far, social media response to the campaign has been positive, with people using the #MyMothersNameIs hashtag to tweet support and their mothers' names.

Still, it seems that it will probably take a long time before a woman's name stops being a source of embarrassment for most men in Egypt. Here are a few reactions men in the video had to being asked their mother's name.

So will any of these men agree to say their mother's name? Check out the full video to find out.