Here's How Saudi Women Forced The Government To Lift The Ban On Driving After Years Of Struggle

By Aam Nawab | 27 Sep, 2017

Many of us take the ability to move from point A to point B for granted. For women in Saudia Arabia this wasn’t as easy. Under the mehram (or guardianship) system a woman can only move out of her home in the presence of, or with the permission of her mehram (that means she needs her father, brother or husband to give permission to step out of the house).


The policies by the Saudi state have come under massive scrutiny over the years, with the international community calling the country oppressive toward women


Women in Saudia Arabia also took matters in their own hands and protested the mehram system, often with the looping threat of imprisonment and lashes.


On Tuesday evening, Saudi Arabia announced that it’s lifting the ban on women to drive

It is important to note that this is NOT an overnight flip in policy. The end of the ban will actually come into practice in June 2018.


This policy shift has been demanded for way too long, now with Saudi women protesting the ban for, at least, 20 years now

In 1990, a few women in Riyadh acted in strict defiance and drove their cars around town. They were arrested for a day and some even lost their jobs as a result.


Ever since, women who were caught were sentenced to 10 lashes. They would also have to sign a guarantee that they will NEVER drive again.

This started a movement, and particularly inspired younger Saudi women.

In 2007, Wajeeha al-Huwaider formally formed the ‘Association for the Protection and Defense of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia.’

Wajeeha would later become popular world over for driving in Jeddah and posting the video to YouTube.

Wajeeha’s move motivated many young Saudi women to do the same. Social media created a space for them to express themselves and tell the world about their struggles.

These Saudi women did not see driving as a ‘protest’ but rather as exercising their fundamental ‘women’s rights.’ More women took to the streets and slowly they formed a major movement that stood against the mehram system.

In 2013, Saudi clerics claimed that women ruin their ovaries when they drive, trying to justify the ban

In response to this ‘claim’ 60 women protested despite warnings against doing protest being issued by authorities. The situation got worse for women when clerics came out in staunch opposition to the women’s rights movement. 150+ clerics protested outside the Royal Palace to force the King to formally ban the congregation of women.




The new policy apparently isn’t as ‘liberating’ and ‘freedom ensuring’ as we may think because the guardianship system is still in place

It is Saudi Arabia after all, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


Another major development for Saudi women was when they were allowed to attend National Day celebrations. For the first time in like FOREVER, Saudi women were allowed to take part in the celebrations. All of these are reforms are ‘too little too late’ but chalo atleast it’s happening.


People around the world just can’t stop celebrating this news

Saudi women fought incredible odds, and now they have this massive victory to flaunt 

*Friendly* advice was given. 

Seriously ladies, take it

How could Saudi stereotypes NOT be brought up

But all jokes aside, take a bow ladies. You’ve done it! 


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