Saudi Arabia Finally Agrees To Let Women Drive

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Saudi Arabia is the only place on the planet that still doesn't permit women to drive. Today, Manal al Sharif celebrated as she began this fight against oppression in 2011.

Source: New York Times

Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the repression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom.

The change, which will take effect in June of next year, was announced on state television and in a simultaneous media event in Washington. The decision highlights the damage that the no-driving policy has done to the kingdom’s international reputation and its hopes for a public relations benefit from the reform.

Saudi leaders also hope the new policy will help the economy by increasing women’s participation in the workplace. Many working Saudi women spend much of their salaries on drivers or must be driven to work by male relatives.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, is a Muslim monarchy ruled according to Shariah law. Saudi officials and clerics have provided numerous explanations for the ban over the years.

Some said that it was inappropriate in Saudi culture for women to drive, or that male drivers would not know how to handle having women in cars next to them. Others argued that allowing women to drive would lead to promiscuity and the collapse of the Saudi family. One cleric claimed — with no evidence — that driving harmed women’s ovaries.

A 2011 news report from Al Jazeera.


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