(Friday, 29th September 2017 Issue)
The move by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to lift the ban on the rights of Saudi women to drive, is indeed a welcome news.
It is of a major symbolic importance and a victory to women rights campaigners and advocates to see that the ban has been lifted to enable women exercise their rights, as their menfolk.
The ban on driving has hardly been the most onerous of restrictions on the public life of women in Saudi Arabia, a country that used to imprison women rights campaigners, who used to advocate protest against the ban on female driving in 1990.
The difficult parameters of women’s right to obtain driver’s licence will no longer require the permission and approval of a male guardian.
Lifting the ban on driving is an appreciation of the expanding role that women can play in Saudi society; especially with the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmam, who is said to view greater participation of Saudi women in the workforce, as a key to economic reformation.
Since 2015 women have been voting and running for offices in municipal elections; and now more Saudi women than men are studying in universities. Also, Saudi women are now allowed into sports stadiums for the first time, a move that was considered impossible, a few years ago.
Allowing Saudi women to drive is a laudable move as it brings to a bare minimum the premier symbol of the entire Saudi system of gender segregation.
Undoubtedly, this development which will literally see women behind the wheel is bound to accelerate the transformation of Saudi society, including amending or abrogating the ‘guardianship laws.’
woman’s place is not only the kitchen.”