Riyadh, September 27: Saudi Arabia is witnessing a series of economic and social reform nowadays as the rulers of Kingdom are trying to create more and more employment. Therefore, now the women in Saudi Arabia have also been granted the right to drive.
Notably, Saudi Arabia's King Salman ordered the reform in a royal decree delivered on Tuesday night, requesting that drivers’ licenses be issued to women who wanted them for the first time. According to the royal decree, women will no longer need permission from a legal guardian to get a license and will not need a guardian in the car when they drive.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said, “The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike.” “The decree orders the formation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the edict within 30 days and to ensure the full implementation of the order by June 2018,” the SPA added.
However, the decree referred to the "negative effects of not allowing women to drive vehicles, and the positive effects envisaged from allowing them to do so" within the context of Islamic laws. Earlier, there was an extensive protest led by human rights activists, NGOs demanding reforms in the fundamentalist kingdom. Since many years, the women rights have been the center of extensive debate in government, media and social circles.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Prince Khaled bin Salman, described the decision of allowing women to drive as a “huge step.” “It's not just a social change, it's part of economic reform,” he said. “Our leadership believes this is the right time to do this change because in Saudi Arabia, we have a young, dynamic open society.”
On the other side, United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres applauded the decision of Saudi Arabia and tweeted, “I welcome Saudi Arabia's decision to lift the ban on women drivers. An important step in the right direction.”
The move of Saudi Arabia is also welcomed by the United States and many other countries. Earlier, Saudi Arabia also announced that the girls in public schools now onwards will have full access to sports, physical education etc. Importantly, Women were banned from driving and must seek the permission of a male guardian to travel abroad or obtain a passport. Restrictive male guardianship rules give men, usually the father or husband, huge sway over a woman’s life in Saudi Arabia.