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Spain Looks At Changing Naming Tradition, Citing Gender Equality

Nov 4, 2010

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Reported by

Bill Chappell

The Spanish government is hoping to add more flexibility to the way children are named — and in the process, to end a tradition that favors males.

Currently, children in Spain are given two surnames. But since the father's name is listed first, and the second name is often omitted in regular usage, the mother's surname can be easily forgotten.

New legislation would allow parents to choose to put the mother's name first. And in cases where the parents can't agree on which name should goes first, the surnames would be listed in alphabetic order.

As the AP reports, "Ruling Socialist Party spokesman Jose Antonio Alonso told reporters Thursday there is no good reason for the father's name to come first automatically and the change will be more 'egalitarian.'"

But conservatives in the opposition have vowed to fight the proposal in the legislature, saying that the change is unnecessary reform.

Critics say that if the rules are enacted, they could lead to a drastic shift in the country's last names, possibly leading to a drop in surnames starting with letters that come in the latter half of the alphabet.

Here's a snippet from a report by AFP:

"Names like Abad or Alvarez have a promising future in Spain," said the conservative daily ABC.

"For others like Zurbano or Zamora, survival will be more complicated."


Since he took office, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's Socialist government has sought wide-ranging reform. His pursuit of gender equality led him to name a Cabinet that reportedly consists of more women than men. The posts include a Minister for Equality.

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