Saudi women face web of barriers even as driving ban lifts

Saudi women face web of barriers even as driving ban lifts

Saudi women face web of barriers even as driving ban lifts

26, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced that a royal decree has been issued that will allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia.

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The shock announcement comes after a years-long resistance from women's rights activists, some of whom were jailed for defying the ban on female driving.

Before lifting the ban, Saudi Arabia, a monarchy ruled under Sharia law, was the only remaining country in the world to impose such a restriction on women.

Nearly two decades later, in September 2007, the Association for the Protection and Defense of Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia, co-founded by Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, submitted a 1,100-signature petition to King Abdullah asking for women to be allowed to drive. Women are still not allowed to marry or travel overseas without permission from a male "guardian", such as a husband, father, or other close male family member, according to the nonprofit Human Rights Watch.

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Al-Sharif is just one of many Saudi women on Twitter shouting out the significance of the news, driving home the fact that it's Saudi women themselves who are responsible for the victory.

A major step towards the achievement of women rights has been achieved in Saudi Arabia as it agrees to issue driving licenses to women.

A special government body has being set up to give advice, and the law will be changed by 24 June 2018.

The new Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Khaled bin Salman, welcomed the decision as a "huge step forward" for the Kingdom, the Washington Post reported.

One Saudi woman tweeted a picture of three women in a convertible going shopping, with the message: "Us soon".

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The nonprofit Human Rights Watch calls the male guardianship system "the most significant impediment to women's rights in the country despite limited reforms over the last decade".

While there are now a few jobs women in the Kingdom are allowed to do without male permission, such as working as shop assistants or at fairgrounds, they are not allowed to have their own bank account to control their finances without permission.

"There are 2.7 million women in Saudi that are not working today because they don't have a reliable means of transport to go to work", he said, referencing figures from the Saudi authorities.

The issue has come to represent all of the human rights abuses Saudi women suffer under the Kingdom's male guardianship system, which gives a woman's husband, son or father control over nearly all aspects of her life.

"The societal change taking place is massive in Saudi and we've seen sweeping reform measures, but none at that level".

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