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10 Saudi Women Get Driver’s Licenses as a Prelude to Equal Rights to Driving Access


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/06/04

The National Post reported on the driver’s licenses for Saudi women.

10 women were issues their first driver’s licenses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is in preparation mode to eliminate the ban on women driving. This will occur in about three weeks.

This amounts to the only ban of its kind in the world. Some Saudi women who protested were arrested and remain under arrest. The 10 licenses, interestingly enough, were issued to women who already held driver’s licenses from other countries including Canada, Lebanon, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom.

They underwent a driving test and eye exam prior to the issuance of their driver’s licenses. The General Department of Traffic in Riyadh — Saudi Arabia’s capital city — issued them. No media from other countries were present at this event.

Women around Saudi Arabia have been preparing for the right to drive. This event will occur on June 24. Women have been attending female-only college campuses.

“Some are even training to become drivers for ride hailing companies like Uber. Saudi women had long complained of having to hire costly male drivers, use taxis or rely on male relatives to get to work and run errands,” As noted in the reportage, “The surprise move to issue some women licenses early came as activists who had campaigned for the right to drive remain under arrest, facing possible trial.”

17 people, according to Saudi Arabia’s prosecutor, were detained in the prior weeks because of the suspicion that they may be working actively to undermine stability and security. Activists claim prominent women’s rights campaigners were targeted.

The National Post stated, “The prosecutor’s statement said eight have been temporarily released, while five men and four women remain under arrest. Among the women held since May 15 are Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef and Eman al-Nafjan, according to people with knowledge of the arrests who’ve spoken to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.”

Those three women were among the most outspoken and known women’s rights campaigners in the country. They risked arrest in order for Saudi women to be able to have the right to drive like men.

They have been calling for the guardianship laws to be abandoned. It gives the male relatives in the women’s lives the final statement in who the women marry and how or when and if they travel outside the country.

“Three other veteran women’s rights activists were briefly detained at the onset of the sweep. They had taken part in the first protest in 1990 against the kingdom’s ban on women driving.

Nearly 50 women took part in that first driving protest some 28 years ago,” the article said.

Many were arrested, lost jobs, had passports confiscated, and faced severe discrimination as well.

This is all part and parcel of the increased movement for more equality and democratic progression.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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