Carmakers Welcome Arrival of Saudi Women Behind the Wheel

While there are plenty of Saudi women demanding and campaigning for their rights it is easy to assume that the only resistance to liberalization comes from men. That is simply not true

Saudi Arabia's royalty still have far to go to liberate women from the so-called guardian system, a tribal tradition in which male relatives control numerous activities of women.

"Wow", said my mom, truly surprised when I told her the news.

There has always been a seeming dismissal of poorer and non-Saudi women within the campaign. "#Women2Drive done. #IammyownGuardian in progress", wrote Ms.al-Sharif, who was arrested and jailed for driving in 2011.

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"Putting women behind the wheel is the most effective way to announce to the world - and to Saudis - that the kingdom is entering a new era", Kristin Diwan, of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said. Women already dominate men in numbers at universities.

"The move to allow women to drive is set to benefit the entire market", LMC analyst David Oakley said. Migrant workers from countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia still suffer sickening exploitation.

- Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) September 26, 2017I agree it's a encouraging sign, but banning women from driving ranks about 8,349th on Saudi Arabia's list of human rights violations. Right now, the country is a literal patriarchy, one that's been able to quell dissent by doling out allowance in the form of cheap gas. The Times also points out that policemen will have to learn how to interact to with female drivers in a country where men and women rarely interact with non-family members.

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All of this is becoming unaffordable, and this past summer, the government unveiled Vision 2030, a plan to wean the kingdom off oil.

Sept 23: Women were allowed to enter the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh for the first time when Saudi Arabia celebrated the 87 anniversary of its foundation with concerts, including a pageant operetta. In 2015, the kingdom allowed women both to run for and to vote in local-council elections. Permitting women to move freely to their own jobs isn't magnanimous, it's practical and necessary.

Stur said Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest allies of the USA, but there has been a lot of controversy about the lack of civil rights and liberties for women in that part of the world as the US works to bring democracy and freedom to parts of the Middle East.

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Women's reproductive rights also need to be promoted around the world, as only 39.5 percent of the world's population lives in countries where there are no reason-based restrictions on abortion, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The US-raised Saudi citizen worked with various ministries in Riyadh before returning to the States in 2017. Like them, observers should realize this is just one obstacle on the long road to freedom.

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