The topic of women’s rights has been prominent in political and casual discussions for quite some time. Now, more than ever, women have found their voice through social media to fight and defend the injustices that they face on a daily basis no matter how small they may seem to be. As of yesterday, a huge step was taken in the right direction for the women of Saudi Arabia. Women can now drive.
Many activists in Saudi Arabia risked everything in order to drive and a lot of them were arrested on the spot.
For driving. In 2017.
Driving cars may seem like a very insignificant right to have unless you really consider what it means to drive a car by yourself. Having a vehicle and using it gives you freedom to go places without being dependent on someone else. For women in Saudi Arabia, this means being dependent on a male figure. Which in the end, means the male figure determines if a woman go to work or not. If a woman can’t work and properly make a living for herself then she will be dependent for the rest of her life.
For the majority of the world in 2017 it is hard to imagine what it would be like to constantly have to get permission to do something as simple as going to work. It is especially difficult for most women to accept the idea that a man is always in charge of their every move, going so far as to dictate what is decent clothing and what is not.
The women of Saudi Arabia still have this issue. They cannot have any governmental service done for them without the presence and permission of a male figure; i.e. their father or husband. This guardianship system also includes traveling and studying. This new driving law not only gives women the right to drive but gives women the right to choose. They do not need the permission of a man to sign up for driving courses or to get their license. This is finally something that a woman has complete control over.
The purpose of women driving in Saudi Arabia was to boost the economy by giving women a proper way to get to work. The amount of money spent on personal drivers and taxi services could go up to $1,000 a month per household alone. For a woman using these services twice daily to get to work and come home the amount of money earned is not worth the money being spent on getting it.
Saudi Arabia is changing slowly. Tradition is above all else and traditionalists aren’t the easiest people to convert. In the future we will see more basic rights given to women in Saudi Arabia. They have already been given the right to vote and run in municipal elections. They had the opportunity to enter a sports arena which was against the law because women and sports have nothing to do with each other. Now more and more people are beginning to understand the importance of women’s rights and what needs to be done.
As positive of a step as this is, there are some concerns of the possible backlash of this new law. While some will accept these changes with open arms others may try stopping it from happening. Some men have threatened before when talking about the future possibility of a driving law that if they see a woman driving, they will pull her out of the car and MAKE her stop. We can only hope that the possible actions of those who refuse to accept the new law will not affect the decision in the future.
All in all, there are many advances that still need to be made, there is no doubt in that. Women, especially those in countries like Saudi Arabia, need a voice. A real voice, not one translated by a man who believes he knows how women actually feel. It is beyond important for women to stand together and defend one another to make this happen. Never think your voice is too small, you got more than 50% of the population of the world fighting for the same thing.