This UN Women Campaign Challenges Men To Say Their Mother's Name In Public

03/24/2015 06:57 pm ET

Many Egyptian and Middle Eastern men won't speak their mother's name in public, but the United Nations is looking to change that with a Mother's Day campaign called "Give Mom Back Her Name."

The movement's video -- made to coincide with the holiday, which is celebrated regionally on March 21 -- opens with an interviewer asking Egyptian men and boys what their mother is called. It's an innocuous question, but they refuse, laugh nervously or question "Why?"

In some countries, it's common for parents to be known as "the father of X" or "the mother of Y," rather than their first names. But having your mother's name widely known is considered shameful, particularly for men, because people can use it to make rude jokes, the video description explains. It goes on to say:

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’.

"If someone knew our mother's name, we used to sob, when we were kids," one older man says in the video.

The Regional Director of UN Women, Mohammed Naciri, wants people to know it doesn't have to be that way. “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," he is quoted as saying.

The short film was made in collaboration with BBDO IMPACT in Dubai, the pan-Arabian branch of the BBDO advertising agency. It closes with an invitation: Post your mother's name on social media with the tag #MyMothersNameIs.

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