Women in Saudi Arabia will soon be allowed to drive

This week, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that women will soon be allowed to drive and legally obtain a license. Saudi Arabia is currently the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. This is due to strict laws in the ultraconservative country that require women to always have the presence or permission of a male “guardian,” such as a husband, father, or even a son. This week's announcement sets a plan to have women legally able to drive by June 2018, which is a huge win for gender equality.

 

Saudi women have been protesting for years to earn the right to drive. Many have faced arrest over videos they posted to social media showing women driving in the kingdom. In 1990, 50 women were arrested for driving and subsequently lost their passports and their jobs. In 2011, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes simply for driving.

 

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been slowly granting women more and more rights. They have allowed women to compete in the Olympic Games in London and Rio, to hold positions on the country’s top consultative council, and in 2015, they gave women the right to run and vote in local elections.

 

Despite these victories for gender equality, Saudi women are still widely oppressed due to the county’s strict guardianship laws. These laws prohibit women from taking all sorts of independent action without the consent of a male relative. This includes getting a passport, traveling outside the country, or even getting married.

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