Saturday, January 25, 2020
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Beginning June 2018, Saudi women can drive

A major but nonsensical hurdle to women’s rights collapsed under its own weight on September 26, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decreed that women would be allowed to drive, beginning on June 24, 2018.

The significance of the royal decree wasn’t lost on high school students in America, who are now just learning to drive but have always known that they would have the freedom to get a driver’s license regardless of their sex.

“Driving is definitely more of an extension of the rights we have,” the student newspaper at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati quoted one junior as saying. “I’m grateful that the United States gives us so much freedom in different aspects of life.”

Imagine you had a job, but you could only get to the job by hiring a professional driver or depending on a male relative. That’s what life has been like for Saudi women, and it will stay that way until this change takes effect.

If a society is bent on the idea of holding women back, it can take away their freedoms. Little by little, men will surpass women, and holding women back will seem only logical to everybody. On the other hand, giving women freedom to move about, even if a man can’t take them where they need to go at the moment, will make society even more rejuvenating all around. Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, ambassador to the US, expressed this optimism.

“The issue of women driving was never a religious or a cultural issue. In fact, the majority of the members of the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom agree that Islam does not ban women from driving. This was a societal issue. Today, we have a young and vibrant society and the time had come to make this move,” he said in a press release.

“In a country where there is a strict regime on women’s rights, this is a big step forward,” wrote Jessica Lu in The Leaf student newspaper, quoting a junior at the school. “I think that women being able to drive in Saudi Arabia will be really great.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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