Saudi Arabia Says Women Can!

October 7, 2017

Yippee! You’ve just celebrated your sixteenth birthday, and in most countries, that means that you can drive. But if you’re a girl and live in Saudi Arabia, you can’t. You see, up until a few weeks ago, women in Saudi Arabia were not allowed to drive—well, not formally at least—because they were not issued driver’s licenses! But that’s all changed now. On September 26th, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry made a simple announcement (via Twitter no less!) that read, “Saudi Arabia allows women to drive.” It was an announcement that some women had been waiting to hear since the early 1990s. After all, some have challenged the driving ban since then and have even lost their jobs over their efforts.

Saudi women walk inside the Faysalia shopping centre in Riyadh. By Tribes of the World via @Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This announcement might be a sign to some that Saudi Arabia is changing for the better, but others are less optimistic. Why? Because in Saudi Arabia, many laws give men control over women in families. If that’s the case, would a man be able to control whether or not a woman gets a driver’s license? We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but what we know for sure is that starting in June, women in Saudi Arabia will be issued driver’s licenses. The Saudi Arabian government has less than a year to prepare for what they’re anticipating as millions of new drivers hitting the roads. They’ll be fixing and building roads, establishing driver education programs, training employees on how to issue licenses, and much more.