Image Credits: Fayez Nureldine/Getty Image

Earlier this week, it was announced that women have been granted the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. This law will go into effect beginning June 2018, after being announced on live television. Women have been fighting for this right in Saudi Arabia since the 90s.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that is governed by Sharia Law. While winning the ability to drive is a huge victory for the women of Saudi Arabia, there is still much work to be done. There are still a number of basic freedoms and liberties that women are denied. Men still hold the ultimate veto power in the country.

Women in Saudi Arabia are not permitted to make major decisions without a male guardian, such as a father, husband, brother or uncle. Here are some of things Saudi Arabia women can’t do without an official male guardian’s permission – typically a husband, father, or brother:

  • Women cannot retain custody of their children in a divorce after the children reach a certain age.

  • Women cannot get a fair hearing in court.

  • Women cannot not get a job.

  • Women are not allowed to apply for passports or national ID cards.

  • Women cannot travel abroad.

  • Women are not allowed to wear makeup or clothes with any embellishments.

  • Women are not allowed interact with men with whom they are not related.

  • Women cannot go swimming when men are present.

  • Women are not permitted to have elective medical procedures.

  • Women cannot play sports.

  • Women are not allowed try on clothes when shopping.

More information on many of these topics can be found hereMany basic freedoms and rights that we often take for granted in the west are not permitted in other parts of the world. In many of these places, women are still treated as second class citizens. In fact, women did not gain the right to vote in Saudi Arabia until 2015. When this change was made, only a mere 130,000 women registered to vote, as compared to 1.35 million men who are registered.

Many of these new rights and liberties for women come under the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He is often credited with trying to move the country in a more equal and accepting direction. He, and others, claim that this lifted ban will boost the country’s economy. More women will be able to get to and from work. Their less restricted mobility will afford women greater job prospects. Women were also recently permitted to watch sporting events and enter stadiums. This comes as part of a greater plan, called Vision 2030. The plan strives to boost women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent. Women are now able to work in shops, hotels and offices. These job opportunities were off-limits to them as recent as a few years ago. 

Women are still facing an uphill battle in Saudi Arabia. While everyone should celebrate this victory, our only hope is that the rights of women are expanded in the future.

Joleen T
FFL Contributor
Joleen is a Contributor at FFL. She enjoys reading, going to Chipotle, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. You can find her at the library, or studying for the LSAT. Her goal is to become a lawyer, and eventually run for public office. Her role models are Nikki Haley and Sandra Day O’Connor.

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