Saudi Arabian state television announced on Tuesday evening that women will be allowed to drive in the kingdom, with driving licenses to be issued to men and women alike from next summer. The order was issued by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and was announced by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ultraconservative kingdom is the only country in the world to have until now forbidden women from driving, and it is common for foreign male chauffeurs, mostly from South Asia, to be employed to enable females to travel.
Samira Atallah, Senior Advisor for international women’s rights organisation Equality Now, says “the royal decree allowing women to drive is long overdue. Saudi women have tirelessly campaigned to repeal the driving ban that has had detrimental effects on their economic and social wellbeing. In a context where women suffer from extreme gender inequality and male domination, gaining the freedom of movement – a basic human right – surely gives hope and impetus for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.”