The Economist: Saudi Arabia Will Finally Allow Women to Drive

On September 26 Saudi Arabia announced an end to its longstanding ban on female drivers. As the lone country in the world “to have such a stricture … [the law has become] a symbol of the ultraconservative kingdom’s repression of women.” As the Economist observes, “For many Saudi women, the change is long overdue.” Saudi Arabia adheres to strict interpretations of sharia law and tribal customs. Women have collectively agitated for the right to drive since at least 1990 when dozens drove cars in Riyadh as a sign of protest. Women make up about 15 percent of the Saudi workforce. An end to the driving ban could increase women's participation in the workforce in turn reduce reliance on foreign labor, about 35 percent of the Saudi workforce. The young crown prince, Muhammad ibn Salman, supports loosening repressive laws and the move is part of a broader schema to restructure Saudi society. The announcement boosts the country’s public image, but the driving ban is not the only legal restriction for Saudi women. Activists like Manal al-Sharif now take aim at wilaya, the guardianship system, “which requires them to seek permission from male relatives in order to travel abroad or get married.” – YaleGlobal

The Economist: Saudi Arabia Will Finally Allow Women to Drive

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers – signaling that the crown prince may lead on more changes that loosen some religious controls for the conservative kingdom
Friday, September 29, 2017
Copyright The Economist Newspaper Limited 2017

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