Beyond the Driving Ban in Saudi Arabia | NowThis World


Women in Saudi Arabia are finally taking their
place behind the wheel. In September 2017, the kingdom announced a
royal decree that would roll back the policy that confined women to being transported by
male relatives or paying for a driver. The last ban on women driving in the world
officially ended on June 24 2018, when women were allowed to enroll in driving school and
be issued driver’s licenses. “Everybody was waiting that day to see the
first woman in the state to drive, it was just an amazing, amazing feeling.” Human rights groups hailed it a victory for
women, but some some have questioned the true motives behind the reform, and whether it
goes far enough in advancing women’s rights in the kingdom. I’m Alex, this is NowThis World, and on
this episode we’re discussing the lift of the driving ban, and speaking to a human rights
campaigner and a Saudi lawyer and entrepreneur, who recently got her own license. about how this move affects women, and whether
more reforms are on the horizon. “I did not believe it until, on the 24th,
I really felt that, ‘Oh my God, this is really happening.’ And the minute I drove my car, it was 8:30
in the morning, I drove to a cafe and the minute I parked my car and went in, people
started clapping.” Sofana Dahlan is a Saudi social entrepreneur
and one of the kingdom’s first women lawyers. “You know, if you asked me in 2014, ‘will
women be able to drive?’ I would have said, ‘I don’t think so.’ So having all these changes happen, really
lifts up our spirits.” Indeed, ending the longstanding driving ban
on women was previously low on the royal family’s priority list. That position was solidified by some conservative
clerics, who lend legitimacy to the royal family. One infamously told a local news site in 2013
that a woman driving a car could “affect a woman’s ovaries and push the pelvis upwards.” He falsely claimed that women who drive have
children with “clinical problems of varying degrees.” But things started to change after a recent
shakeup in the ruling structure. In June 2017, King Salman ousted his nephew,
who was then next in line for the throne, and replaced him with his son, Mohammed bin
Salman, referred to by many as “MBS.” The Crown Prince was given sweeping powers
and tasked with modernizing the Saudi economy and transforming its cultural image. That included promises to return the kingdom
to “moderate Islam,” lifting the ban on movie theatres and public concerts, and arresting
dozens of princes and ministers in an alleged anti-corruption sweep. Beyond lifting the driving ban, there have
been several women-focused reforms, like a new rule that allows women to join the military
– reportedly in non-combat roles – attend soccer games, start businesses without permission
from a man, as well as his declaration in an interview with 60 Minutes that women shouldn’t
necessarily have to wear the black abaya. “The laws are very clear, and stipulated
in the laws of Sharia, that women wear decent, respectful clothing like men. This, however, does not particularly specify
a black abaya, or a black head cover, the decision is entirely left for women to decide.” But beyond the human rights aspect, rolling
back the driving ban is also expected to give the economy a boost. One survey of about 400 Saudi women by recruitment
firm GulfTalent showed that more than 80% of women plan to drive by then end of 2018. A Bloomberg analysis found that economic factors
driven by the reform, like increased participation of women in the workforce, could contribute
as much as $90 billion to the kingdom’s economic output by 2030. The rollback also opened up a slew of new
job opportunities for women, including with the popular ride hailing services Uber and
Careem, which started recruiting women drivers after the rollback was announced in 2017. Women reportedly comprise between 70 and 80%
of the apps’ customer bases, some of whom say there are many benefits to being driven
by a woman, including feeling safer and generally more supported “There are so many women who would love to
get into the car and have like just that female moment. It’s here!” Prominent figures in Western media have hailed
the 32-year-old prince as a reformer. He even landed a spot on the Time’s 2018
“Top 100 Most Influential People list.” And 60 Minutes called him a revolutionary
who is “emancipating women.” But some argue that these reforms are just
a smokescreen. They say that the kingdom’s economic goals,
to create a self-sufficient kingdom while weaning off of oil dependency, are driving
them, rather than a human rights agenda. And that they’re just a way for the Crown
Prince to consolidate power. They point to the example that he’s also
been involved in detaining those who are outspoken on women’s’ rights issues, like, ironically,
the driving ban. “If the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
and the Saudi Arabian government were serious about protecting women’s rights and promoting
gender equality in the kingdom, then they need to release the women’s rights activists
who remain in detention.” Hadid and other human rights groups say the
activists could face up to 20 years in prison if tried in the counter-terrorism court, which
some local media have reported they will be. As recently as May and June of 2018, Saudi
authorities arrested more than a dozen activists, including some tied to a famous 1990 demonstration,
in which 47 women drove through the streets of Riyadh in protest. One Saudi scholar attributes these arrests
to the kingdom wanting to prevent activists from speaking out about the ban, so that they
get all the credit. Rights groups are calling on the Crown Prince
to free the activists, as well as loosen up other restrictions against women still in
place in the kingdom, like the still mostly-intact male guardianship system. Under the male guardianship system, in order
for adult women to do things like open a savings account, study or travel abroad, and marry,
they need permission from a father, brother, husband, uncle, or even son. The system keeps Saudi women, according to
Human Rights Watch, as permanent legal minors in the eyes of the kingdom. But Dahlan says it’s important to point
out here the common media narrative painting Saudi women as universally oppressed and abused,
is not representative of every Saudi woman’s experience. “Saudi women are no different than any women
in the world, not a single different. There are some that are going through troubles
in their marriages, there are some that are abused, but there are some that are very empowered,
there are some that are very strong, there are some that are very successful.” Indeed, there’s a higher representation
of women serving in the national legislature in Saudi than even here in the U.S. And despite the fact many question Mohammed
bin Salman motives, there are those that say, it doesn’t really matter the reason. Reforms that give people fundamental human
rights are still reforms.




Comments
  1. I think that's a very good step. But as it's a conservative country, things need to move slow till it's modernised.

  2. Let's hope that human rights stay on rise not just in Saudi Arabia, but also everywhere else in the world!

    Greetings from Brazil.

  3. But you fail to speak about the 500,000 riyal fine ( approximately $120,000 ) for any man who disrespects a woman.

  4. Alcohol is still banned and yet some of the biggest purchasers of alcohol are Saudi princes. They think that they are above the law all over the world.

  5. ©™ TMALX Transnational 🌏 Militant💣 Armed🔫Liberation⛓ Xecutive🕶 Observation ✍ ✍

    🎼Get your motors running head out on the highway 🎼

  6. One the few remaining monarchs with any power in the world let’s his country become the last in the world to not allow woman to drive and people call him progressive.

  7. Pathetic..all of this disgusts me. Lets just celebrate the end of something that never should jave been. What kind of sheep are Saudi Arabians i'd like to know?

  8. Lol how backwards these people are? Women are finally being able to drive? Lol these is all temporary, these women have no rights

  9. Since women have right to drive in SA. Insurance have gone up as women have slowed traffic and causing havok.

  10. The day when women will not have to cover themselves and wear burkha or hijaab I believe that day will be a Victory day for women and Islam as well.

  11. women have driven in saudi arabia before but they were arrested. so no one knows the first woman to drive

  12. That line about the legislature annoyed me. How many seats are actually in each of those legislatures? You only told us the percentage taken by women. But for all we know America actually surpasses them in female representation in raw numbers. Especially since there is less than a one percentage point difference. Very misleading.

  13. I had some small problems with female drivers. One of them is when they "use" right turning light to turn left .

  14. Remove the Male Guardianship and Gender Based Discrimination from choosing the employment they desire.

  15. Saudi Arabian Feminists are doing an amazing work. I hope those people dont become like their counterparts in the west.

  16. It's great that Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving! 🙂 It's just too bad that feminists nowadays WON'T and probably never WILL ever talk about Saudi Arabia and the women's rights in the Middle Eastern, because they're just too focused on trying to prove that, ''Feminism is about equality of both genders!'' when all they did so far was make sexist anti-male propagandas, and complaining about the smallest things ever that's not even related to woman's rights.

    Seriously, why can't those feminists even TALK about Saudi Arabia if all they're talking about is woman's rights?

  17. Of course uber would want to take advantage of women also. Their drivers are just suckers who don’t know what car depreciation is

  18. By "letting women drive" they didn't automatically restore human rights. Saudi Arabia is still a Wahabbi dictatorship. Freedome of speech and basic human rights are non-existent there. Stop promoting the terrorists Now This!!

  19. In India Women drive's Train and Pane . We have the world's largest women Militaries . We don't stop our women .

  20. According to great Quran women cannot drive because they have half of man's brain. There will be so much accidents if women start to drive. Their small brain is not enough to drive a car.

  21. I think they should ban Korean women from driving. My mom is THE WORST driver on this planet and every other Korean woman I've seen drive is almost as bad.

  22. Hahahaha new age marketing?! Come back here in 5 years to listen to the same women says that the country is ruled by a dictator etc….

  23. All videos are treat to watch… Do add up India's corruption & rank of countries in corruption around the world…

  24. I am Saudi women ,we still need permission from our father or husband to travel or rent an apartment even to get out of jail if you don't have permission you'll stay there ! ,and to get married sometimes to work almost everything , our families dislike this permission thing just like not being able to drive before but I don't understand why we do it!? .I am NOT A FEMINIST this is basic human rights

  25. Hey..hey .hey..its Wednesday..and I don't see the Russia desk video….Are you running out of lies or what?

  26. Do a video of el salvador and there rising dictatorship , over the last months , government institutions have cancel , and tried to keep out Nayib Bukele , a politician who is highly loved by the Salvadoran people and the international community.

  27. Speaking well of Saudi Arabia but making an entire series to talk only badly of Russia? A little biased much?

  28. Why would any man want to live in a society that required woman to ask men for permission to do anything? Men barely even want their significant others to talk to them sometimes.

  29. There is a little amount of womans have drive

    21k driving student in dammam
    67 woman have passed the driving test just 67 woman

  30. Weak liberals, Allah will punish you for this blasphemy after most of Saudi population will die in car accidents 🙂

  31. Maybe it's too little too late, but better late than never. If this guy can do for Saudis what Pope Francis is doing for Catholic doctrine, it'd say it's going to be better than not.

  32. No doubt others will disagree but I think it is pathetic these women are happy and thankful they are allowed to drive. Seriously that backward country needs to do a f*ckload more than allow women to drive! Yeesh!

  33. The Saudi Arabian Prince is trying to look good, did you know his uncle was against him so he had him killed.

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