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How Economic Reform Will Help Women Drive In Saudi Arabia


The following is an excerpt from Fatimah S. Baeshen | June 19, 2017 | Time.com |

I recently watched Wonder Woman, and the overall theme of the movie hit home. One quote particularly resonated and reminded me of the battle Saudi women face for our rights…
The battle will never be fair.

We cannot approach it as if it is. Saudi society will transform: not because of government mandates or activism, but because of changes in the Saudi labor market and the unsustainable religio-cultural contradictions these transformations will create. Ultimately, economic reform will drive sociocultural change in Saudi Arabia — pun intended.

There is no official law in Saudi Arabia prohibiting women from driving, only one that requires a license to drive, which women cannot obtain. The ban originated from Saudi’s conservative religio-cultural tradition and, over the course of decades, evolved from observed tradition to full institutionalization. This occurred in 1991 when, following a female driving campaign, a prominent Saudi cleric issued a religious decree linking women’s driving to the promotion of ‘sinful’ practices, such as free mixing of the sexes, unveiling, etc.. As the ruling drew widespread support from Saudi’s large conservative religious base, the Ministry of Interior was compelled to endorse it. This is one example where activism backfired.

For more visit: Time.com