Saudi Women Drive!

For decades, the women of Saudi Arabia have been denied a basic right that many in the Western world take for granted: driving. Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabia decided to lift a century-old ban, finally allowing Saudi women to drive.


The kingdom announced the decision with a royal decree and live broadcast held in Washington, DC. Beginning in early 2018, Saudi women will be able to obtain driver's licenses and drive themselves. Saudi Arabia had come under fierce international scrutiny for this policy in the past, and the kingdom is hoping that lifting the ban will help boost relations with the rest of the world. 

Under the ban, women in Saudi Arabia weren't allowed to drive a car under any circumstances. That means they were forced to hire drivers or be escorted by male relatives. Saudi women couldn't go to work, to the store, or even to the doctor without relying on a man to drive them there. 

Saudi Arabia's government, which is a complete monarchy ruled under Sharia Law, has cited many excuses for the ban in past decades. Some government officials claimed allowing women to drive would lead to promiscuity among women and lead to the collapse of the Saudi family. Some men expressed fears that their female relatives would become stranded if their cars broke down. Others felt that Saudi men just wouldn't be able to handle having a woman in the driver's seat. There have been countless protests and demonstrations over the years for the ban to be lifted, and some women have been arrested for defying the law. 

As someone who got their driver's license at the ripe age of sixteen, it's almost impossible for me to imagine what life would be like if I weren't allowed to drive. I couldn't have gotten my first job, couldn't have driven myself to school every day, couldn't have gone to the mall or on road trips with my friends (unless my dad decided to be my chauffeur). Saudi women finally winning the fight for driving privileges is a long overdue victory for women's rights.


Although this is a monumental step in the right direction, there's still work to be done for women's rights around the world. It's 2017, and women in Saudi Arabia are just now getting the right to drive a car. Saudi women are still required to have a male guardian, who they must consult with before making major decisions. Saudi women cannot compete freely in sports, use public pools that men use, or try on clothes when out shopping. 

Let's congratulate Saudi women on their victory, but don't forget, there's still work to be done!