The last country on Earth to ban women from driving has just relaxed its laws. Hallelujah.
It’s really a miracle that in an age where artificial intelligence is on the path to becoming smart enough to replace both truck drivers and heart surgeons, there is still some part of the world that doesn’t allow women to drive. It’s a fact that should be humbling to our species, in case world news was giving you reason to feel proud. Sarcasm aside, there is now reason to celebrate because the only country in the world that bars women from getting behind the wheel of a car has had a change of heart.
That’s right. Saudi Arabia, one of America’s allies in the region that unfortunately does not share the same sentiment towards personal freedoms, has lifted its ban on women driving. That means us car fans now have the privilege of welcoming Saudi women to the world of the automobile driver. The announcement was made this past Tuesday as an official decree and aired live on state television. The new rule goes into effect in June 2018 and will officially mark the end of the repressive rule against women that treated them as irresponsible burdens that couldn’t be entrusted with one the most crucial tools our modern society uses to work at the feverish pace it chooses to work at.
While women in Saudi society are forced to consult with male members of the family for permission to do everything from traveling and undergoing medical procedures and even taking a job, many of these women hold high positions and huge amounts of professional responsibility nonetheless. These professional women are forced to spend copious amounts of money on personal drivers and taxis or ask male relatives for rides to do even the simplest of errands, even if they are the breadwinners of the house. That will all end when the new law goes into effect, provided the patriarchal society can stomach the changes.
And while the major battle towards putting women in Saudi Arabia on the road has been conquered, there is still a ways to go. For one, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador, has claimed that the Interior Ministry has yet to decide whether or not it would allow women to work as professional drivers. Moreover, police will have to be trained on how to speak to women drivers. Yes, that’s actually a thing. In Saudi society, men and women rarely interact unless they are family, making it so that the government has to consider the tactics it will use to communicate when stopping female speeders. This is a move we think everyone can get behind, even the automakers since it means the kingdom may see an uptick in car sales.