In the Driver’s Seat: Women of Saudi Arabia granted right to drive

Published on: October 24, 2017

Filled Under: Beyond Our Walls, Features, News, Showcase, Travel

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On September 26th, 2017, King Salman of Saudi Arabia lifted the country’s restrictions on women driving. The ban was lifted after years of women’s rights advocates pushing for a change in legislation, including,18 years ago in 1990, women protested by driving their cars around until the police stopped them.

Women’s rights have always been up for debate within the Saudi Arabian community. Men have more political power in society.. One major issue is that women in Saudi Arabia require a male guardian’s approval in order to make decisions. The time they are allowed to see men that they aren’t related to is limited. They are not allowed to have full say in what they would like to do if their male guardian does not approve. For example, women cannot travel, attend universities or even have surgery without male approval.

Before the ban is lifted, driver’s ed courses will be offered, allowing Saudi Arabian women to gain experience since they have never been allowed behind the wheel before. Although it is not yet known how the drivers ed courses will be set up, it is official that authorities will need to be taught how to handle the new drivers.

The ban being lifted will not only be helpful to women who are married and would like to drive, but also women who don’t have a male counterpart in their life that could drive for them. It will aid with their day-to-day lifestyle that calls for driving in order to get from one place to another.

The situation extends outside of just driving. Ultimately, the goal of lifting the ban includes allowing women to participate in a working environment. It would finally allow women to work alongside men in whatever job they choose. In society there isn’t a law restricting women from working but in society it is highly enforced by government officials. In Saudi Arabia, women are seen as homemakers instead of working and strong. Due to the hold male relatives or husbands have over women, many can’t go out and do as they’d like.

Currently, it is prohibited for women to see or even be around other men that aren’t their spouse or relative, as time goes on the younger generation of women are slowly beginning to demand to have the same rights as men. In May of 2017, activists fought to have the right to take a job and attend universities.

However, Saudi Arabian women have been slowly given rights to participate in the same activities that men do. In 2015, women were finally allowed to vote. In the following year, four female athletes competed in the Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympics. The ban that restricts women from driving will officially be lifted as of June 2018.

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