Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Women Driving
by Hannah Musgrave
On the last Tuesday of September 2017, Saudi Arabia announced the release of their ban on women driving. This is to take action in June 2018.
Women being prohibited from driving has long stood as a global sign of oppression and has tainted Saudi Arabia's reputation, which they now aim to fix and gain better public relations with their refined policy. Prior to this, women were not allowed behind the wheel and had to be driven around by a hired driver or male relative. This prohibited many from going to work, as they had no source of transportation, and if they did hire a driver it ate up half their salary. A goal of Saudi Arabia with the newfound policy is that women will be more present in the workforce, contribute positively to the economy, and help grow the nation and its international relations.
Although it is a norm here in our country, the new policy of woman driving is a huge reform for the Saudi Arabians. For decades citizens have been protesting the ban but were met with harsh, monarchic rejection. Hundreds of women participating in protests have gotten behind the wheel and been arrested for it, jailed for months at a time. They faced opposition from their rulers without any real reasoning. One argument was that driving hurt a woman’s ovaries, yet no evidence was provided. It is said that this new reform is predicted to bring turmoil into the ultra-conservative, patriarchal families.
Another reason the driving ban lift is such a big deal is that it is one of the first reforms to overturn the male guardianship laws—regulations that give men superiority and power over women. The driving reform states that woman can attain a driver’s license without the permission of their male “guardian”, a huge step toward gender equality and acknowledged self-sufficiency.
Even though Saudi Arabian women are not allowed accessibility to all the rights we have in America, the ban on driving is a huge step towards the equality of women and is something to be celebrated not just in Saudi Arabia, but by women worldwide—a big step towards a bigger, brighter future for the country and women around the globe.