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Saudi Arabian Women Driving Reform

Mia Egerman, Editor in Chief

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Beginning in June of 2018, Saudi Arabian women will be driving. This is a major change in their culture because until this time, a ban was upheld that prevented them from driving; a luxury we may take for granted. This isn’t the first change for women, however, considering they already make up 13% of the country’s workforce (2015). But this doesn’t quite scream, liberation, to some women. People fear the true intentions behind lifting the ban, whether it be for actual social reform to get more women in the workplace by giving them the means of getting there, or just a political tactic.

Women driving isn’t the first reform taking action in Saudi Arabia at the moment. The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also plans to introduce new tourism, social activities, and entertainment under the fully conservative reign. The most surprising part to women in Saudi Arabia is that the new “privilege” comes with freedom to drive without the consent of their guardian. However, there’s another side to the spectrum. Those who aren’t rejoicing, are fearing the break of gender roles in their society. Anything that remotely seems to mimic Western Culture and ideology, takes away from their idea of an “ideal and pure Islamic nation”.

Regardless of what perspective is weighed in on, change is happening and women who were once being imprisoned for standing up for their rights are now starting to see justice. It may take awhile for their male counterparts to adjust, for some still worry what will happen if “their female relatives getting stranded should their cars break down,” or something else were to occur. Keeping in mind that our cultures vastly differ, perception isn’t always reality for an outsider looking in on their world. Tradition may be hard to break, continuing to enforce patriarchal structures even inside homes, but it’s a matter to look into before passing judgment on this Middle Eastern way of life.

Sources

East, Ford Middle. “Welcome to the Driver’s Seat. #SaudiWomenMove #SaudiWomenCanDrive Pic.twitter.com/OksRbFvLWa.” Twitter, Twitter, 27 Sept. 2017, twitter.com/FordMiddleEast/status/913088482838491137.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2017/1005/What-drove-Saudi-Arabia-to-lift-driving-ban-It-s-not-all-about-women

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Saudi Arabian Women Driving Reform