Saudi Arabian activist Manal al-Sharif, who was once jailed for posting a video on YouTube of herself driving and later forced to flee the country, says she’s celebrating the news that Saudi Arabia will finally allow women to drive legally.
“This is huge. There is nothing really more difficult than this fight for women to drive because it touches every single woman,” al-Sharif said. “This is the one that emancipates them.”
Last month, al-Sharif had declared that allowing women to drive would be the first step in dismantling Saudi Arabia’s patriarchal and oppressive rule over women. But this victory, she noted, should not be taken to mean that women are now seen as equal to men in the conservative country. So long as the male guardianship system remained in place, she said, women would continue to live as second-class citizens. Under the guardianship system, women must ask male relatives for permission before travelling abroad, getting married, or even receiving medical care.
“You can not empower women to become anything in your country if she still needs a man’s permission,” al-Sharif explained. “That is the real challenge to society, how they accept having women as full citizens.” Three years ago, al-Sharif appeared at the Women in the World Los Angeles Salon for a discussion with Tina Brown in which she talked about driving as an act of protest. Watch that discussion below.
Read the full story at Reuters.