Afghan women may soon be allowed to have their names on their children’s birth certificates, marking a huge milestone for women’s rights.
The move comes as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reportedly signed an amendment giving birth mothers the right to be included on official government documents, according to ABC News. It has historically only been a privilege for the father.
With no name, women have no identity and no rights. However, the amendment redefines the definition of identity.
“The new identity would comprise of the person’s name, last name, father’s name, mother’s name, and date of birth,” a spokesman told New York Times. “In the old definition, mother’s name was not part of the identity.”
Traditionally it is believed using a woman’s name in public brings shame on the family.
In Afghanistan, women’s names are typically left off significant records including their own gravestones or wedding invitations. Instead, women are referred to by the name of their closest male relative.
The history-making decision has come to light three years after the #WhereIsMyName campaign began fighting for women’s rights on social media.
After years of campaigning, Afghan citizens will soon have their mothers’ names printed along with their fathers’ on their ID cards.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) September 11, 2020
“After years of campaigning, Afghan citizens will soon have their mothers’ names printed along with their fathers’ on their ID cards,” UN Women shared on Twitter. “This is a step in normalising women’s public presence in Afghanistan where it remains taboo.”
The amendment will create a rare win for activists in the male-dominated country where using a woman’s name outside her family has been forbidden for centuries.
By allowing women the right to use their own names, it will give them a power unlike ever before in the Islamic nation. Without the presence of a man, mothers will be able to enrol their own children into school and source travel documents.
“The matter of including a woman’s name on the nation ID card in Afghanistan is not a matter of women’s rights – it’s a legal right, a human right,” Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan former MP, told the BBC . “Any individual who exists in this world has to have an identity.”