Women in Saudi can finally cheer as the country has lifted the long withstanding ban on women driving. The women can officially get behind the wheel starting today as the law was lifted post-midnight on Sunday, June 24. It was the world's last remaining ban on women driving, a symbol of gender operation in the Kingdom. The first 10 driving licenses were issued to women earlier this month. After an intense crackdown on the activists who campaigned for the right to drive, the law is finally repealed.
It is a historic moment for the women in the country who had to depend on their male family members to run basic errands for years. With the law going out on Sunday, women had already started their training, some learning to ride bikes as well. The new driving policy was announced in September 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He aims to try and transform a traditionally conservative oil-based economy into a more reliable market for foreign investments, thus encouraging women to come into workforce actively. With more women now freely moving about and driving to work, it will help the government reach its goal of increasing women’s employment to 30 percent by the year 2030. Saudi Arabia: Women Enter Stadium for First Time to Watch Soccer.
The ban on driving was for nearly three decades and the fight for the right to drive began since 1990. Several women who broke the law faced arrest, loss of jobs and were even barred from travelling abroad. After years and years of fight, the last law in the world is taken off. To engage and encourage women, the Saudi Ministry of Interior ha organised a festival of sorts. There were expos held in the Riyadh's malls especially held for women to learn about driving, car maintenance, traffic etiquette, and basic technique. These workshops were held for 3 days and women gathered in great numbers. Special driving schools have been set up for women. For a conservative government, June 24 is a landmark day.