Last Saturday Saudi Arabia saw a nationwide campaign for its women drivers. It’s not the first of its kind, but definitely the biggest in a few decades. While it might be disheartening that only a few dozen women participated in the protest we hope it will be another stepping stone towards a society without silly rules for its women, or anyone else for that matter.
Now, a lot’s been written and said about the driving ban, which in fact isn’t a ban at all (at least not legally, though clerics have said women are not allowed to drive and no Saudi woman will be issued a driving license), but we’re here to make sense of it for you. Here’s a summary of the most important posts, videos and opinions we could find. Of course our list isn’t complete, so by all means, add to our assessment in the comment section.
first off, start with the TEDtalk of Manal al-Sharif, social activist and driving force behind the campaigns to get Saudi Women to drive. If anything it’s a moving story of perseverence.
Want to know / read more about Manal al Sharif, here’s a link to the English articles on her personal page.
Done, seen it? Cool huh? Now do yourself a favor and watch the satirical video by the Telfaz11 crew that was released on the day of the protest. An A Capella rendition of the Bob Marley classic (because instruments are HARAM!) asking women to stay away from the steering wheel. In two days the video has had more than 4.000.000 views and keeps growing.
Confused about the line about healthy ovaries? That refers to a conservative cleric claiming driving messes up the pelvis and ovaries, leading to birth defects in the children of women who regularly drive.
Now while pseudo scientific arguments like these are easily refuted, the societal and cultural opposition to driving is much harder to combat. Consider for instance this calm talk on why it’s absolutely reasonable not to want women to drive in a country “as vast as Saudi Arabia”
Another important voice in the campaign is that of Eman al Nafjan. She’s taken videos of herself driving, has a great blog in which she discusses a variety of human rights issues and very important for us foreign followers of the current campaign, has a Twitter account in which she regularly writes in English on what’s going on.
There’s much more to share on the struggle for driving and other rights in Saudi Arabia, such as the inclusion of women in the country’s religious council, but those are posts for another day.