In the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it was announced on Tuesday that women could finally drive. This brought to an end a policy that had barred women from driving since the kingdom was established. This change was announced on live TV yesterday in a royal decree. There was another event in Washington that announced the lifting of the ban for women drivers. However, the ban will not be lifted immediately as it will take effect next year on July. According to international relation experts, the move is an effort by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to build an international reputation that that has been tarnished by the ban. This decision is geared towards reforming the public relations of the kingdom. The Saudi government also announced that the move is geared towards promoting the economy of the country as it will enable women to participate in the workplace. At the moment, women in Saudi Arabia have to hire a male driver spending much of their salaries on drivers. They could also opt to be driven to the workplace by a male relative. The ban was implemented in 1990, and several protests were held. One of the 47 women who took part in these protests is Fawziah al-Bakr.
At the moment, she teaches in a Saudi university as a professor. She described the decision as amazing. During the protests, the women decided to drive around Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. After being arrested, some of these women lost their jobs. She said that the Saudi women have been waiting for the day that they could finally drive. There are numerous explanations that have been provided by clerics and Saudi officials on why women should not be allowed to drive. For starters, Saudi Arabia is regarded as the home of Islam’s holiest site. Up to date, the country is under absolute monarchy meaning that the country is governed in accordance with Sharia law. In some of the explanations as to why women cannot drive, Saudi officials say that men would be unable to handle themselves when they encounter women driving. In another explanation, the officials say that it would encourage women promiscuity which would lead to problems with Saudi families. Another cleric once said that driving could harm the ovaries of a woman. However, this was without explanation or evidence. While there are many Saudi activists and rights groups that have opposed the ban, numerous women have been jailed for defying the order.