#Whereismyname: Afghan Women’s Pursuit of Their Identity | (dot)gender
(dot)gender | A space by LORENA STELLA MARTINI
In September 2020, Afghan mothers finally obtained the right to include their own names beside the name of the father on their children’s identity cards. This measure is a step of paramount importance for a country where women’s names are generally excluded from public life. In Afghanistan, women are normally referred to by mentioning their role within the family – “mother of, wife of, sister of” – or else with generic nicknames. According to Afghan traditional culture, which in this matter bears no Islamic influence, stating a woman’s name is a source of shame and dishonor to her family. Such a belief has serious repercussions in every activity women engage in throughout their life: their personal names are omitted from their documents, from their marriage acts, from their medical prescriptions, and till the end even from their gravestones. This means women are spoiled of many of their legal rights: these simply have no legal existence, just as their holders’ names.
In this framework, it is clear why obtaining the right to state mothers’ name on their children’s ID is a sort of breakthrough, whose foundations have been laid by campaigning and social activism within Afghan civil society. Indeed, in 2017, some brave Afghan activists launched the social media campaign #WhereIsMyName; supported by some public figures, this initiative has managed to finally shed the light on a very controversial issue.
Calling for their name to be made public, Afghan women are asking for their most basic rights to be recognized: how can you affirm your social and public identity, how can you claim your freedom when you don’t even have the right to be named? How can you try to carve out your place in society, when the boundaries of your gender role are so rigid that you don’t even deserve to have your own, personal name?
THIS SHORT VIDEO, shot before the passing of the amendment that allowed the inclusion of mothers’ names on their children’s ID, outlines Afghan women’s struggle in this domain:
Some interesting sources: