For the first time in history, women in Saudi Arabia will be able to get a driver’s license. King Salaman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal decree on Tuesday night granting women the right to request a driver’s license and drive a car in Saudi Arabia.
Under the current system in Saudi Arabia, an ultra-conservative kingdom, all woman needed permission from their legal guardian to get a driver’s license and they had to be accompanied by their guardian in the car while they were driving. However, this is about to change effective June 2018.
Saudi Arabia Changing Their Image
The U.S. state department and the secretary Rex Tillerson applauded this decision and said it was “a great step in the right direction.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was delighted to hear the good news as well.
The Saudi ambassador to Washington DC, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said to the press: “I think our leadership understands our society is ready.”
This royal decree comes amid a reform last week that allowed women into the national stadium for the first time, where they were celebrating the 87th anniversary of its founding with concerts and fireworks.
These important decisions are part of the Saudi government’s 2030 reform to diversify the country’s economy away from its dependence on oil. They intend to achieve this by creating new sectors to employ a young and gender-diverse workforce. This will certainly start a positive transformation in many aspects of the Saudi society.
The Fight is Not Over Yet
Despite the new reforms that give an end to longstanding policies that effectively oppress women in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom is still far from achieving gender equality.
Women are still banned from doing things like traveling without the permission of their male guardian, opening a bank account without their husband’s consent, or even undergoing surgery. And they are still required to cover their hair, head, and body when they are in public.
There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in order to achieve gender equality in Saudi Arabia. But for now, Saudi women are finally in the driving seat.