Saudi Arabia is one of the most restrictive countries in the world when it comes to women’s rights. Women must have a male guardian to accompany them in public, grant permission to travel, attend school or marry. Gender segregation is also common in public areas — from swimming pools to restaurants.
The country is slowly making strides toward some form of gender equality. Women will be allowed to vote in 2015 and may even be able to run for municipal elections then. But it is still the only country in the world where women are strictly prohibited from driving.
Saudi women there have campaigned for the right to drive since 1990. The campaign continued in 2011 and reignited on the social media scene more recently last October with a small handful of women getting behind the wheel and sharing videos of their daring drives on YouTube. Today, many of these women are pushing forward in their demand to drive despite the risks and punishments they may face.
“In my sixth attempt I was stopped by traffic police. And I signed a pledge not to not drive again,” Saudi blogger and columnist Tamador Alyami told Fusion Live. “The car is my car and the registration is under my name, but they still made my husband sign the pledge. And they towed my car away for eight months without a ticket.”
Supporters of the ban say women driving can lead to more car accidents, low birthrate or even the spread of adultery. Still, women like Tamador are pushing forward with their campaign to end the driving ban.
“The campaign is worth every risk because it’s one right, a lot of rights that we are missing and we are asking to have a good life. And all our rights, not only this right because standing passive and just waiting for your rights to come to you will not work.”
Produced by Suzette Laboy.