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Saudi Arabia’s King Just Let Women Drive

Illustrative picture of Saudi women.
Illustrative picture of Saudi women. (Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

 

King Salman of Saudi Arabia signed a decree allowing women to drive on Tuesday. The law will come into effect in June 2018 following an evaluation by a committee of ministers. The move was not anticipated. 

The long-demanded law change has come after years of campaigning from activists. Saudi Arabia has perhaps the most restrictive laws for women in the world. Women cannot work, leave the country, get an education or a host of other restrictions without permission from their male guardian

The campaign to allow women to drive slowly gained more support, including from influential royals.

“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,” said Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a hugely influential business said in 2016, adding, “They are all unjust acts by a traditional society, far more restrictive than what is lawfully allowed by the precepts of religion.”

The news was greeted with delight by Saudi women and international campaigners.

Over the years, here’s how Saudi women have struggled to gain the right to drive:

A timeline of the struggle by Saudi women to obtain the right to drive in the kingdom.

 

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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