Saudi Arabia Will Allow Women to Drive by June 2018

Posted September 28, 2017

In Saudi Arabia, only country where women are prohibited from driving, women have been responding to King Selman's protests for years.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, speaking to reporters on Tuesday after the kingdom announced it would permit women to drive, said the decision was not just a major social change but part of the country's economic reforms.

A hole was poked in that restriction last week, with women allowed to enter a sports stadium in Riyadh for Saudi National Day - in a family section, away from single men.

The women, many of them completely veiled except for their eyes, piled into 15 cars and took a drive through the capital.

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But perhaps the most powerful statement came from activist Manal Al Sharif (main picture), who left Saudi Arabia after fighting for the right for women to drive.

The kingdom is the only country in the world that bars women from driving.

Some hit back at sexist jokes that flooded Saudi Twitter in the wake of the driving ban being lifted, reminding people that Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest auto accidents rates, while only men are driving.

The average monthly wage of a domestic driver in Saudi Arabia is 1500 riyals. The Women's Council, newly established by Suudi administration, was founded at initiative of Prince Faisal bin Mishal, governor of Kassim province. The ban holds women back from jobs, leaves them dependent on male relatives or drivers. "We also need to see a whole range of discriminatory laws and practices swept away in Saudi Arabia including the guardianship system where every woman has a male guardian, be it their father, brother, husband or son, having authority to make decisions on her behalf", Luther said.

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Nauert is calling it "a great step in the right direction for that country". However, this is about to change effective June 2018.

A royal decree was also issued to enable Saudi women to get a driving licence, allowing them to drive. Her act was featured in the Frontline documentary "Saudi Arabia Uncovered", which showed footage captured secretly of alleged human rights violations inside the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia will use the "preparatory period" until then to expand licensing facilities and develop the infrastructure to accommodate millions of new drivers, the announcement added.

Women's rights activists since the 1990s have been pushing for the right to drive, saying it represents their larger struggle for equal rights under the law.

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