I was born in a really good place at a really good time. In a society so focused on the future, it’s easy to forget that just decades earlier, American women didn’t have the same rights I have and that many women around the world still don’t have even today. A guest speakers today made me take a step back and recognize just what I’ve been taking for granted.

When I need to go across town, I grab my keys, put my car in gear, and press my foot down on the pedal without a care in the world. When a Saudi woman needs to go across town, she’ll have to ask her husband, son, or other relative; find public transportation; or drive herself without a license. Today’s guest speakers was all too familiar with this after being arrested for teaching a group of Saudi women to drive. Now an activist with #Women2Drive, she spoke about why she is risking her safety for the cause.

No law in Saudi Arabia explicitly states that women cannot drive, rather the government simply doesn’t issue licenses to women. #Women2Drive’s mission is to get women behind the wheel-- legally.

The interesting part of women not driving is the reason behind it, which our guest speaker said has never been disclosed. She did share some theories, though: maybe it's to protect women, maybe it's issue of control, maybe just because it’s always been that way. Nobody knows for sure.

She does believe that the government is hearing the call for women driving, but instead responding in other ways like offering women seats in parliament and allowing women to pass citizenship along to her child. She suspects this is because the Saudi government doesn’t want citizens to know that protesting will get them anywhere.

In her own words, “That’s how corrupt our governments are.”

Despite knowing the outcome she desires may not come for many years, our speaker wasn’t discouraged.

“Don’t give up. We want to have a role in ‘ask for your rights, even if you’re not going to get them anytime soon.’”

To learn more about Saudi Women To Drive, like them on Facebook.

Not all women are allowed behind the wheel. (Image taken at the S heikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum.)

Not all women are allowed behind the wheel. (Image taken at the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum.)

Gina Van ThommeComment