How UN Women Used Mother's Day to Break a Middle Eastern Taboo

Campaign Encouraged Men to Reveal Their Mothers' Names for the First Time on Social Media

Published On
Mar 23, 2015

Editor's Pick

For Mother's Day (which occurred last weekend outside the U.S,), UN Women launched a social media campaign that addressed a cultural taboo common in Egypt and the Middle East -- that of men never mentioning their mother's name publicly.

Once a woman becomes a mother in these countries, her name is never disclosed publicly, as men fear it might bring her into shame or disrespect. Instead she's known as the mother of her eldest son, or by her husband's name if she has no sons. Calling a man by his mother's name can also be an insult.

UN Women and agency Impact BBDO Dubai created this film to start a social media campaign encouraging men to break the taboo -- and in the process, give mothers their names back -- by changing their Twitter profile to that of their mom's name for Mother's Day.

In two days, it had 1.4 million shares on Facebook and Youtube and the twitter hashtag #MyMothersNameIs reached 10.2 million in one day. High-profile men and celebrities shared their mothers' names all over the region, encouraging other men to do so.