Finally, Saudi Arabia is ready to uplift the restrictions and allowing its women to drive in the country. The Saudi Foreign Ministry announced that a royal decree has been passed which will allow women to drive in the country. A committee which will implement the decree has been formed, and they will present recommendations within 30 days. The government will then have until June 24, 2018, to implement the new ruling.
This is a historic big day in our kingdom,” Prince Khaled bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, said on Twitter.
The 60-year-old ban made the Ultra-conservative kingdom the only place where women could not legally take the wheels.
UN Secretary-General said that this move is an important step in the right direction. The move comes as part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan. It aims to diversify the country’s economy away from oil. The plan has a number of programs that will lift women up.
This week is also the celebrations of the country’s anniversary, and for the first time, women will be allowed into the Saudi national stadium.
We are trying to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” bin Salman said. In order to change women’s participation in the workforce, we need them to be able to drive to work. We need them to move forward, we need them to improve our economy,” said the country’s ambassador.
Women will not have to get permission from their male guardians to take driving lessons.
The move has been welcomed by activists and rights groups who have been campaigning for the ban to be overturned. Previously, some women were even been arrested for taking the wheels. In 2014, Loujain Hathloul was arrested after she tried crossing the border from the UAE to Saudi Arabia.
Though there are no legal glitches in the implementation, but a social backlash is much-anticipated. Religious conservatives may speak against the ban. Already there has been a viral Whatsapp message calling on the ‘virtuous ones’ to work against its implementation, to protect against epidemics, adultery and more disasters.
However, there is no doubt that this is a historic move, and let’s hope it is one of the many to come for women in Saudi Arabia.
Some prominent social media reactions to the new order:
I welcome Saudi Arabia's decision to lift the ban on women drivers. An important step in the right direction.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 27, 2017
— Kris Jenner (@KrisJenner) September 27, 2017