Saudi Arabia Finally Lifts Ban on Female Drivers

Saudi women can now drive

Saudi Arabia Finally Lifts Ban on Female Drivers but the struggle for equality is far from over. As at June 24th 2018 women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive.

Before this time, Saudi women relied on public transportation, or male relatives to take them from point A to B.

When you consider the inherent economic benefits this move is about to trigger, clearly imposing such a restriction, suggests that it was not well thought out.

Saudi Arabia Finally Lifts Ban on Female Drivers

But why have such a ban in the first place?

Clearly it was not about women’s driving ability, since Saudi Arabia has one of the most horrific traffic accident rate to date. This ban seems more about male domination and female oppression, more than anything else.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. That means the king is the head of state, head of government, supreme commander of the armed forces, etc. You get the picture. As a result, state legislation is based on whatever royal decrees the royal family decides on and those decisions dominate almost every aspect of political and economic life in the country.

This system of governance has basically stripped Saudi women of the basic rights other women enjoy;

A woman in Saudi Arabia is legally treated as a minor from cradle to grave; she needs the consent of a male guardian to be able to study, travel, work, marry or obtain some official documents. A divorced or widowed mother is subject to the guardianship of her own teenage son.

Can you feel the oppression?

What lifting this ban means to Saudi Arabia

According to Bloomberg Economics, lifting the ban on female drivers could add as much as $90 billion to Saudi Arabia’s economic output by 2030, with the benefits extending beyond that date.

Saudi Arabia was the last country to prohibit women from driving. Lifting the ban is designed to raise female participation rate as well as modernize Saudi society.

According to Khalid Al-Falih, ending the ban means that “women will be more empowered, more mobile, participate more in the job market over time, as well as contribute to employment of females in Saudi Arabia.

Even though it will take time to realize the gains, “Lifting the ban on driving is likely to increase the number of women seeking jobs, boosting the size of the workforce and lifting overall incomes and output.” 

Although this may be a step in the right direction, according to Hana Al-Khamri “Saudi women’s struggle for equality and the right for full citizenship is far from over.

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