This comes as very surprising to many foreign policy experts. Saudi women are now allowed to get their drivers’ licenses and drive.
Until Tuesday Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women are not permitted to drive. In some nations women’s driving rights are reduced, but they were the only nation left where women were completely unable to drive.
Up until the ruling, any woman caught driving would be locked up and their cars confiscated.
Per Daily Wire:
State run media reported late Tuesday that a royal order had been issued, decreeing that women as well as men would be eligible to receive drivers’ licenses. The country has yet to say how it will go about testing and awarding licenses, but state media says the royal family has convened a committee to look into the matter. The committe is to report back by June 25 of 2018.
The decree said, however, that women would eventually be allowed to drive, “in accordance with the Islamic laws.”
This is a huge win for women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia and across the Muslim world where women are increasingly subject to conservative, and often backwards, restrictions that prevent them from dressing, speaking, or moving freely. In some cases, women are still regularly punished for being victims of sexual assault.
For a long time there has been pressure on Saudi Arabia to get rid of this ban. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal spoke out on the issue in 2016, which went a long way toward the change in ruling when he said, “Preventing a woman from driving a car is today an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity.”