Widespread jubilation as Saudi Arabia allows women to drive

While there are plenty of Saudi women demanding and campaigning for their rights it is easy to assume that the only resistance to liberalization comes from men. That is simply not true

Saudi Arabia, a notoriously conservative Middle-Eastern country, has lifted a ban on women driving in what is being considered a turning point for the country.

Prior to the new decree, only men were allowed licences and women faced prosecution if they were caught behind the wheel of a auto.

Saudi Arabia announced today that it will overturn a longstanding ban and allow women to drive.

She later posted a picture of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with the caption "And they blame me for loving you".

Saudi Arabia has had a blanket ban on women driving, with those caught behind the wheel detained. Similarly, just last week, Saudi women were granted access to sports stadiums. Women are still not allowed to marry or travel overseas without permission from a male "guardian", such as a husband, father, or other close male family member, according to the nonprofit Human Rights Watch.

In a statement, she welcomed the end of "one of the most draconian laws in modern history", but said she would push ahead with the fight for full equality.

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He says the question of whether women should drive is "not religious nor a cultural issue", but he says he understands there might be "social issues", as not everyone in Saudi Arabia supports the changes. One Saudi Arabian professor believes this to be a PR stunt to gain popularity for the king, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, both internationally and among his own people.

The US State Department called it a "great step in the right direction", echoing a similar comment from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Saudi women are required to get permission from a male family member, sometimes even a younger brother, for some of the most important decisions of her life.

The key factor has been the lower price of oil globally, which has spurred a sales boom in places like the SUV-loving USA but curtailed spending in Saudi Arabia.

The decree said that women would be allowed to drive "in accordance with the Islamic laws".

It's a huge women's rights win for a country that had previously refused to grant drivers licenses to women. "In order to divert attention from this incident, we will find the women driving is now going to be headlines across the globe". But there are many bans on women in Saudi that she can't do without permission. Under the country's draconian "guardianship" laws, women aren't permitted to travel, work or undergo a range of medical procedures without the consent of a male "guardian".

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