Marie Claire South Africa by Afika Jadezweni
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been rejoicing since the decades-long ban on women driving has finally been lifted, introducing Saudi women to the rest of the world as we’ve always known it. In celebration of the end of a repressive era finally marked by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s life-changing decree, women put their drivers’ licenses to use for the first time shortly after midnight on Sunday 24 June. This historic moment comes just months after it was announced in September last year that Saudi women will soon look forward to legally driving in the Kingdom.
This is wild. The way female oppression is applied across cultures is really mind blowing. An American woman wants equal pay, a Nigerian woman wants autonomy in her home, Saudi women just want to drive. https://t.co/hK6Eke0N5v
— The Profashional (@AdakuUfere) 24 June 2018
According to The Guardian, these new women drivers taking the streets of Saudi Arabia (some of which bought new cars to mark the occasion), were gifted flowers by police officers and their fathers gave their blessing. Fadya Basma, who is one of the first women in the Kingdom to legally drive men around, said ‘it’s a wonderful day. And it will change things. Saudi will never be the same again.’
The lift on the driving ban is also significant to Saudi racing driver Aseel al-Hamad, who despite being a board member of Saudi Arabia’s motoring foundation, has actually never driven on a track at home. In light of this, a statement was released on her behalf where she says, ‘I had the privilege of driving race cars all over the world, but today will be the first in my beloved country. It’s a very special moment.’
And to think driving is something that seems so standard, even mandatory, for young women across the world that we barely make a fuss beyond the day we get our license. But there’s an entire nation where women are only experiencing that privilege for the first time in 2018. We’re celebrating this victory with Saudi women nonetheless.