Saudi Arabia wins plaudits for allowing women to drive

Toni Houston
September 29, 2017

"The fact that women are now getting the opportunity to drive legally, something we take for granted in the USA and really in any modern country, is a major step towards allowing for more rights for women, civil rights for women", Stur said.

Dr. Madawi al-Rasheed, a Saudi academic, congratulated the women activists in a tweet and wished for "political and civil rights and an elected government" to follow. According to the World Economic Forum, which conducts the ranking, the Saudi labor market "is segmented among different population groups, and women remain largely excluded".

Stur said Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest allies of the USA, but there has been a lot of controversy about the lack of civil rights and liberties for women in that part of the world as the US works to bring democracy and freedom to parts of the Middle East. But do not be mistaken: The world still has significant boundaries to push before true gender equality can be achieved.

"The move to allow women to drive is set to benefit the entire market", LMC analyst David Oakley said.

However, this historic leap for the kingdom is only the start of a much larger transformation Saudi politicians must undertake in order to fully empower women within their borders.

Other Twitter users pointed out that Saudi women are still under the male guardianship system, which among other things, prevents them from travelling without permission of the men in their family. Additionally, Saudi women continue to be subjected to harsh dress code guidelines.

"Saudi Arabia will never be the same again".

"We expect demand to rise again on news that women will be allowed to drive", said a senior executive at Jeddah-based auto distributor Naghi Motors, whose brand portfolio includes BMW, Mini, Hyundai, Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover models.

"It is awesome", said Fawziah al-Bakr, a Saudi university professor, who was among 47 women who participated in the kingdom's first protest against the ban in 1990.

It is time for the movement to evaluate the choices it has made in its campaigning, and for a structural dismantling of the oppression faced by all women in Saudi Arabia. In contrast, over one-fourth of the world's population lives in countries where abortion is either prohibited altogether or permitted only if it will save a woman's life. Heather Nauert, the State Department's spokesman, called it "a great step in the right direction for that country".

Allaa Tayeb is a sophomore majoring in English and film studies.

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