Saudi Women’s Driving Campaign occurred near the time that New York Times columnist Gail Collins discussed her book When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.
Though separated by oceans and time zones, both events refer to the continuing challenge of women achieving parity in societies and workplaces.
Although there is no law mandating that women do not drive cars in Saudi Arabia, it is actively discouraged by religious leaders like Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Luhaydan, who asserted that driving injures women’s pelvis and ovaries and causes birth defects in children of women.
Saudi Police detained women who drove cars on 26 October 2013, Saudi Women’s Driving Day, until their “guardians” arrived.
At that time, women were instructed to sign an affidavit stating that they would not drive a car in the future.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki said, “We support the full inclusion of women in Saudi society…. we would support their ability to drive. We support, of course, the right of women everywhere to make their own decisions about their lives and their futures and the right to benefit equally from public services and protection from discrimination.”
Hisham Fageeh provided the memorable commentary on the controversy with his homage to Bob Marley, No Woman, No Drive, a viral sensation.
According to Collins, “everything changed” for women in the U.S. in the 1960s, although many might say that many issues toward equity remain unresolved.
So far, everything has not changed for Saudi women, but they may find encouragement and even humor in Collins’ chronicle of women’s experience toward parity in the U.S.
-*What actions enable full social equity for Saudi women?
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