The news of a landmark decision from the conservative kingdom has brought smiles to thousands of women drivers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who were handicapped due to the current laws that restricted them. The Saudi Foreign ministry has confirmed that a royal decree has been issued that will allow women to drive by next June.
Prince Khaled bin Salman said giving women the right to drive is “a huge step forward and Saudi society is ready for women drivers. This is the right time to do the right thing,” he said.
While women aren’t specifically banned from driving in Saudi Arabia, but they’re not issued a driver’s license and if caught behind the wheel can face punishment. That will soon change. Now, it is the job of the government officials to discuss how to implement the new decree.
The news has been welcomed by many expat Saudis and also NGO’s campaigning for women’s rights. Liesl Gerntholtz, executive director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, said that while being allowed to drive was a “very important step,” there was still a long way to go for Saudi women. “This prohibition on driving is just one in a vast series of laws and policies which prevent women from doing many things,” she said. “The guardianship rule stops women from making every decision in her life without the assistance of a male relative, even if that relative is her 7-year-old son.”