Is Saudi Arabian Society Ready for Women on the Road?

Banu Ahmad '21, Staff Writer

Saudi Arabia made a huge step towards equality when women were given the right to drive, a change that will take effect in June 2018. But the attitude of this male dominant country might make such a change a challenge. Allowing women to drive will not immediately increase traffic. Even after the law comes into effect, women need to take driving lessons. This change has also impacted the car market–car dealers are happy. There is a lot of money to be made here–half of the population of 32 million is suddenly eligible to drive.

According to The New York Times, “it is hard to overstate how much the right to drive will change the lives of Saudi women. Women were long kept out of public life in Saudi Arabia, segregated from men in most settings, limited to a small number of professions or encouraged to stay home, and forced to rely on private drivers or male relatives to pilot them around.”

The right to drive is the most obvious change in Saudi Arabia. But it is not the only change–female university students graduate in large numbers and enter the job market, who are increasingly appointed to high positions.  Rehab Alhuwaider, 21, told the Times that she was excited about driving her own car. It is not just running chores. She said that the best part about driving would be “feeling more freedom.”

Driving is empowering, a small first step towards equality.