Finally, after decades of barring women to drive, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has lifted its ban on women getting behind the steering wheel. Though it was announced last year, it was only at the midnight of June 24, 2018 when the Kingdom officially implemented the royal decree from the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.
This sprung festivity all over KSA, as well as the rest of the world. Jaguar was among the first automotive brands to celebrate the news, by releasing a video of Aseel Al Hamad, the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, completing a lap in a race track in her home country – an act she would never dare do before, but she now can, moving forward. You can watch her lap while driving an F-Type in the video below.
While the lifting of ban on women driving was both a joyous and emotional occasion for the people of Saudi Arabia, it was an important development for the world as well. Why? Let’s break things down so we can delve deeper.
With the lifting of ban on women driving in KSA, the world is looking at the most conservative country making a huge step towards equality among its people.
In this day and age, people have been active in seeking and fighting for their rights, and witnessing a country literally grant a huge portion of its population the right to drive is a relief. While not allowing women to drive isn’t necessarily a violation of human rights, it is certainly restrictive and affects the lives of the people. With the lifting of ban on women driving in KSA, the world is looking at the most conservative nation making a huge step towards equality. Well, at least in terms of driving. Do take note there are still a lot of things that women can't do in KSA.
For instance, KSA has restrictive laws in guardianship, in which women can’t marry, divorce, travel, get a job, have elective surgery, or even get a national identity card or passport without the permission from their male guardians.
On a positive note, KSA has been making baby steps towards empowering its women in the society. In 2015, women were allowed to exercise their right to suffrage, casting their votes for the first time ever. They were also allowed to run for position during the municipal elections of that year. Women are also allowed to attain a college degree in KSA. In fact, CNN reported that in 2015, there are more women studying in universities than men. Lastly, female nationals are allowed to play sports and compete in the Olympics – Saudi Arabia sent two women athletes in 2012 and four in 2016.
KSA is the last country in the world to lift the ban on women driving cars. Now, the world is free to drive, regardless of sex and gender.
There are still other disparity between the right of men and women in KSA, but that would spring more discussion that might digress this story from our main point: the women of KSA is getting more empowered, and it’s only a matter of time before the nation will completely shed off its conservative roots.
KSA is the last country in the world to lift the ban on women driving cars. Now, the world is free to drive, regardless of sex and gender. It’s not only a matter of rights, too. With more women getting interested in cars, the lift on ban will also affect the economic trends in KSA.
Automotive dealerships will start to cater on women car buyers. Driving schools will start accepting accepting female students and female teachers, which will mean increasing revenue ultimately. Time magazine reported that earlier this month, the first ten women were given their driver’s licenses. These women have already obtained licenses from other countries like U.S., U.K., and Canada before they got one from their home country, the KSA. An estimated 2,000 more will follow, after passing driving courses now offered at all-women universities.
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus put it, “Change is the only constant in life.” Times are changing, and this one is a great transition for the women of Saudi Arabia, and the world.