Saudi Women Receive the Right to Drive


On Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia finally decided to repeal it’s ban against women driving, announced in a royal decree by King Solomon. Saudi Arabian women were the last group of women on earth prohibited from driving by a government. The very conservative nation is now allowing women to obtain drivers licenses and drive without a male family members consent. It has taken more than 25 years of protesting the government to enact this legislation.

Allowing women to drive comes with criticism as well as positive remarks. Some critics say that allowing women to drive goes against Saudi Arabian culture. They also say that men will not know how to act with their female counterparts driving alongside them. The new law is also positive in many ways. First, the Saudi government has been known to discriminate against women and this law promotes equality between genders in a large way. Second, women also have an easier and cheaper way to get to their jobs. Before they had to hire a professional driver or get a ride from a male family member, but now that they can drive they will have more incentive to get a job in the private sector and help the largely oil driven economy.

The law will fully be in place in June of 2018, but it does have it’s restrictions. These restrictions come under the Guardianship laws in the country. Under these laws women cannot freely swim, try on clothes at a store, talk to men outside of their family, compete in sports, or wear makeup or clothing that shows their beauty. If women want to do any of these things they need permission from a male guardian, which is usually a father, husband, or brother.

Saudi Arabia has had a reputation for being an unequal country. Women’s rights, the gender pay gap, and women in the work force, are all big factors in the equality of the country. According to the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia is ranked 141st out of 144 countries.  The country has an imbalance of women in the workforce. Many more Saudi men have full time jobs than women. The number of men who have college degrees is also higher in the country. Unequal pay is a large factor impacting the Saudi workforce. The country has no laws prohibiting employers from discriminating against women when it comes to equal payment. Women, who have graduated from a college or university, make $0.79 for every dollar men make with the same qualifications. This gap in pay can be linked to the fact that women have a harder time getting high level, high paying jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia still has work to do when it comes to gender equality, but this law is a step in the right direction. As Saudi society becomes more equal, the economy, culture and daily life will also get better.