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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Afghan President Signs Bill To Include Mother’s Name On Birth Certificate

After receiving a funeral invitation without the deceased woman's name on the card, a women's rights activist immediately established a group of girls and boys to launch the campaign

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Omid Sobhani
Omid Sobhani
Omid Sobhani is a senior journalist at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Transcontinental Times.

AFGHANISTAN. Herat. President Ashraf Ghani signed an amendment allowing Afghan women to have their names printed on birth certificates for the first time. Afghan women activists pushed for this change through their #whereismyname in Afghanistan. This comes after the parliament delayed passing the amendment for weeks.

The inclusion of the mother’s name will be officially added to the national ID cards (birth certificates) besides other details,” said Sadiq Sadiqqi, spokesman for the president.

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The inclusion of the mother’s name had already been approved by the Afghanistan law committee and the cabinet. It is a huge step toward implementing the long time wishes of Afghan women who claim their rights are robbed by the conservative society.

The taboo of using a woman’s name in public

It is taboo for a man to reveal the name of his wife, sister, or mother in Afghanistan’s traditional society. Their names have been ignored for centuries. Most of the people believe using their wives’ names in public is against their honor. Now the campaign members have managed to obtain the breakthroughs since they started the campaign three years ago.

The initiative kicked off by girls

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It was on 5 July 2017 when a group of girls and boys in Herat launched one of the biggest hashtag campaigns in Afghanistan. It was aimed at fighting against the taboo that forbids the use of women’s name on the birth certificates, gravestones, wedding invitation cards, funeral cards and other documents. For years it had been a shame and against the honor of a man to let others know his mother’s or wife’s name.

Read also: Religious Hate Crimes, Racist Discourse Rising Amid COVID-19: UN Secretary

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Laleh Osmany, the creator of the hashtag says, ”There was always a question in my mind: ‘Why are women’s identities incomplete?’ When I referred to Islamic law as a law student, I noticed that there is no such limitation. Instead, Islamic law suppors the identity of women, naming many in the Quran,” said Osmany.

She had received an invitation card to the funeral of the wife of an Afghan author. Even he failed to name his deceased wife’s name on the funeral card. Osmany immediately established a group of girls and boys to launch the campaign.

Hashtag receives support across the world 

Afghan people living abroad and other nationals joined the campaign. They posted videos and photos using their Mother’s name to support the women’s demands.

حمایت زنان دیگر کشورها از هویت مستقل زن افغانستان و کامپاین #نامم_کجاست #WhereIsMyName

Posted by ‎بزرگ ترين هشتگ در افغانستان‎ on Sunday, July 5, 2020
Women posted videos in support of the Afghan women’s Hashtag #WhereIsMyName

Women fear losing further rights amid Intra-Afghan peace talks 

While Intra-Afghan talks began in Doha on 12 September, many Afghani women are worried about the Taliban’s policies which suppressed women’s rights with violence. Former Taliban member Sayed Akbar Agha has recently slammed the government decision to include the mother’s name on the birth certificates. He said the amendment violates Islamic principles.

Former Taliban member Sayed Akbar Agha talks on the peace process at ‘People Peace Assembly’ in Herat. Photo Credit: Facebook

Meanwhile, the amendment made some women hopeful for regaining their rights. Sonia Ahmad, a campaign member explains how she feels about her three-years efforts for the campaign to achieve their goals.

“I have the feeling of a bird that the door of the cage has been opened to. And it can achieve its dream of flying in the sky. My feeling of happiness may seem ridiculous for other women in other countries. But when we live in a society where women are physically and spiritually excluded, achieving such basic rights is a big and difficult task,” she said.

In a conservative society, where conservative leaders stand against gender equality, such bold legislation is a great advance for women in Afghanistan.


  • Omid Sobhani

    Omid Sobhani is a senior journalist at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Transcontinental Times.

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