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What’s in a Female Doctor’s last name?


It is not unusual for female doctors who are married to continue using their maiden names in their profession but this has generated a lot of curiosities and controversy over the years.

These women are usually faced with some negative judgment too especially from the community.  The study of 75 women in the graduating class of 2017 at Harvard Medical School, conducted by Humphries and published in the Harvard Medical School Review in January 2015, found that 65% of single women intend to keep their maiden names, and 63% of the married women had already done so. “Most felt that marrying later in medical training would make it more likely for them to hold on to their maiden names,” Humphries wrote.

According to our Tswana culture, it is expected that once a woman marries, she changes her surname to that of her husband’s.  In fact, most people think that the law obliges a woman to adopt her husband’s name upon marriage.  This is not true. Legally it is only the woman’s civil status that changes after marriage, not necessarily her name. The Civil and national registration guidelines in most countries including Botswana does not mandate a woman to change to her husband’s surname after marriage. In fact most civil codes give the woman a number of options on how to use her name and her husband’s after she marries (NB: – this applies to all women not just doctors);

Option 1 – she may use her maiden’s first name and surname and add her husband’s surname
e.g.  Dr Antoinette Boima-Smith
Option 2 – she may use her maiden’s first name and her husband’s surname
e.g. Dr Antoinette Smith
Option 3 – She may use her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”
e.g. Mrs Tom Smith
 Option 4 – Not changing her maiden name entirely
e.g. Dr Antoinette Boima

Given the options above, most female doctors still opt to keep their maiden names despite the unfair judgement they expose themselves to. They have a right to make their own choices after all. So what is in a female doctor’s last name? A lot.
Professional reasons – As far as the medical profession is concerned, it is a delicate one that entails a lot of sensitive issues, governed by strict medical ethics and laws like confidentialities, consents, beneficence, non-maleficence etc.

that only a person who has undergone the training can be able to handle. So identity of a doctor remains a big issue in the medical fraternity. When a physician changes her last name, she goes through an arduous, complex, and expensive process of changing her professional documentation like medical licences, board certifications and other professional memberships.

She may need to again pass through police checks and other security clearances to render her safe to practice (under the new name).  Now imagine this; if she was to divorce, and have to undergo the same extensive process to reclaim her original surname. The changing of last names has left many female doctors not only with professional implications but emotional drag.

Personal Brand – For most doctors, it may be hard to use their husband’s surname immediately after the wedding since patients have known them with their maiden name before.  So, some will keep their maiden names and others with choose to hyphenate and add a husband’s name, so that their patients would know that they are still the same doctor they went to before, and that they only married. It takes time for patients and colleagues to adjust to her name change.

She loses “name recognition,” albeit often temporarily. Keeping the identity and the brand is very important for professional progression too. Most women in medicine are published authors, and their publications may be under different surnames, rendering their work to not receive the recognition it merits. For couples in which both partners are physicians, sharing a last name can even be problematic especially when one of them gets paged for medical service. Like one doctor who shares a last name with her doctor husband said; “it seemed that it would be confusing if someone called in the middle of the night and wanted to speak to Dr. Robbins, and we would have to ask ‘which Dr. Robbins?”

Family reasons – Commonly, names reflect one’s identity. Some names are a bridge to past generations and carry information about a person’s unique history and heritage. Some people would want to keep their last names solely for that reason and nothing to do with the medical profession. Medicine has been classified as the toughest and most expensive course by the Guinness Book of World Record, so it is not surprising that some female physicians would want to keep their surnames out of loyalty and respect for their supportive families who, in most cases, paid for their medical education.

Despite all the fuss about a female doctor’s last name, some women are proud to take their husbands’ names. They find it easier to be perceived as “one unit” with their husband. Some are facing prejudice that lessened by adopting the husband’s last name. As one doctor said, “I do not want the hospital to think that I am a single mother with a baby daddy.” Some women do not feel the need or desire to honour their family surnames for different reasons.

There are a myriad of a reasons a female doctor may choose to change or keep her last name. Whatever her reasons, they are valid and important to her. No one should be questioning her family loyalty or her professional ambition. We should respect her the way we respect her male counterparts. She should have the freedom to make a name choice without coercion or fear of judgment. It is time to stop pressuring and judging women for the decisions they make about their names and their lives. A supportive and understanding spouse is what matters in whatever the decision the woman makes regarding her name!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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