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Girls & Women

Mothers' Names Will Finally Be Included on Marriage Certificates

Mothers’ names will finally be featured alongside fathers’ details on marriage certificates, thanks to years of cross-party campaigning. 

The Home Office has signed off on the proposal, according to the Sunday Times, which will also apply to civil partnership certificates. 

And the change is a step in the right direction for those who see marriage as a patriarchal institution. 

Take action: Stand With Sonita and Declare the Right for Girls to Choose If, When, and to Whom They Marry

Dame Caroline Spelman, the Church of England’s official representative in the Commons, and the Rev. Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, who sits in the House of Lords, led the cross-party campaign. 

“It’s a huge knock in the eye for mothers,” Labour MP Frank Field, who supported the change, told the Guardian in November. “Children have two parents, even if they are not living together and every opportunity should be taken to affirm that truth, and particularly when it’s often the mum who is with the child if parents aren’t together anymore.”

“It is an insult, really, to the person who has most treasured and nurtured you, in most instances,” he added.

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Currently only the fathers of the bride and groom get their details, including names and occupations, on the marriage certificate.

Campaigners previously had their efforts resisted as it was claimed it would be too expensive to change the formatting of the marriage certificates. The 84,000 marriage registers across Britain only have spaces for fathers’ names, and it was estimated that it would cost around £13 million to change the format of the paper certificates. 

Now, however, mothers’ details will be featured on the digital version of the certificates. 

It comes over three years after former Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to make the change, saying the system — which has been in place since Queen Victoria’s reign — “does not reflect modern Britain.” 

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It is believed that couples will still receive a paper copy of their certificate on the day, but it hasn’t yet been confirmed whether or not that will also include the mothers’ details. 

Campaigners are also pushing for the terms “father” and “mother” to be removed in future — with the genderless term “parent” used instead.

Global Citizen campaigns for gender equality around the world, including putting a stop to laws that discriminate against women and girls through the #LeveltheLaw campaign. You can join us by taking action here