A Little Less Oppressive: Saudi Arabian Women Can Now Drive
Saudi Arabia has taken the step today to allow women to drive
The Saudi Foreign ministry on Tuesday shocked the world by Tweeting out a royal decree which eases restrictions on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
This is another step the current Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin-Salman, is taking to "transform the Saudi economy by 2030."
Allowing women to drive allows them to get jobs farther away from home. It also allows for a diversified workforce and a greater pool of workers in which to choose.
This could have major implications for an economy in which most of its population is highly educated, including a majority of women.
This comes on the heels of other reforms for the country that have allowed greater freedoms for women, including allowing them to stand for office in the last local elections in 2015.
The ban on women drivers had been mocked and ridiculed unceasingly for years.
In 2016, a prominent Prince, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Tweeted in November:
The law, however, became much more serious with its debate in June of 2017 when a Saudi women's rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, was arrested.
Her Crime? She drove within the borders of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In 2014, al-Hathloul was stopped from driving into the Kingdom from the United Arab Emirates.
Al-Hathloul had no access to a lawyer or contact with her family and was whisked away to Riyadh by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution according to Amnesty International.
The ban cannot be lifted immediately either, however.
While women in Saudi Arabia are de facto allowed to drive, there is currently a massive lack of infrastructure for the millions of new drivers that will suddenly be allowed on the roads.
Everything from vehicles to drivers ed courses are in short supply in the country for all the adult drives suddenly now allowed on the road.
The law is expected to be fully implemented by June which would allow women to drive.
The Kingdom, ruled by the Crown Prince (since his father's death last year) down to religious clerics, never had an official law disallowing women from driving.
However, the clerics have stated for decades that women cannot receive drivers licenses due to their "undermining of social values" and "lack of intellect to be able to navigate the roads."
As the Kingdom allows for women to have greater freedoms and in the age of information, how long can they keep up other, more oppressive laws such as those allowing child marriage?
The glass house of Saudi Arabia's oppressive policies is starting to crack as more archaic customs such as disallowing women to drive are abandoned while simultaneously being collectively, with other oppressive nations, called out by President Trump for its position on the Human Rights Council.
Time for their oppressive policies, with pressure coming from all sides, seems to be dwindling.
As they allow for more freedoms for people, the people will start to seek more freedoms for themselves, especially women.
This move is another step towards the end of one of the 21st century's most repressive regimes as we know it and is a step in the right direction for women in Saudi Arabia.