Just three weeks ago Saudi Arabia issued its first driver’s licenses to women in preparation of ending the world’s only ban on female drivers.
Today the ban is lifted and Saudi women are able to take to the streets in celebration.
The mood in many major cities on Saturday was described as celebratory as women and their families awaited midnight. Women jumped into their cars and made their way through town to commemorate the new beginning.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman lifted the ban as a part of efforts towards reforming the hard-line rules governing the country. For years the ban confined women to the backseat and limited when, where, and how they could spend their days in regards to travel.
For nearly three decades Saudi women have been seeking the right to drive, seeing it as a symbol of much needed changes. There was never explicitly a law against women driving, instead the ban was enforced by police who did not allow licenses to be issued to women.
Activists who campaigned for women’s rights were typically arrested and detained. Many of those activists remain behind bars today as women celebrate this victory.
When #Saudi women get behind the wheel this Sunday, the world must remember the true champions behind this reform who are languishing in prison or silenced – my piece in @USATODAY @hrw #StandwithSaudiFeminists #Women2Drive https://t.co/DUNar6v6Rl pic.twitter.com/p8SVzI5FYu
— Rothna Begum (@Rothna_Begum) June 22, 2018
Ahead of the historic change parking spaces were painted pink and car companies ran ads featuring female drivers, their new target audience.
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