Take A Lap! A Key Victory for Saudi Arabian Women
By Luna Carson
A LEAP FORWARD FOR GENDER EQUALITY IN SAUDI ARABIA
June 24th marked a huge victory in Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, where the ban on women driving was lifted. This monumental change is a part of the items that 32- year- old Prince Mohammed has set in response to his Vision 2030 for a brighter future in Saudi Arabian society. On that day alone over 120,000 women went to apply for a driver’s license, in addition to women taking to the streets in motorized fashion to celebrate. When asked how they felt about this new freedom, the women of Saudi Arabia replied with, “we want more!”
With a young, progressive ruler someday set to succeed the king, it could very well mean that women will get more. As of now, there is still a substantial laundry list of rights that Saudi women do not have (unless approved by a male guardian) which include items such as: vote, go to college, marry, divorce, have a job, or even travel.
THE HOT TAKE
Upon hearing this news, the feminist in me rejoiced. Having been a licensed driver for over 10 years, I cannot even fathom the thought of not having that right. But I guess that’s the point isn’t it? I do have that right. It harkens back to 1920, when U.S women were finally granted the right to vote. The processes to make said changes in each system are entirely different from each other. The U.S system has had to change its constitution versus the Saudi system of legislation which makes alterations by royal decree; both systems corrected a long standing wrong. The key here is in looking at the staying power of these laws in each system is the ease with which a successor could potentially reverse previously implemented laws. Under the Saudi system, a less forward-thinking ruler who comes after the crown prince could rescind those rights on a whim. Naturally this puts the future of gender equality laws in Saudi Arabia on thin ice, as these laws and any future laws to promote women's rights can be dismissed and chucked into the royal trash bin by a future monarch. As opposed to the U.S system where the checks and balances of our government make it much more difficult for a new President to change constitutional laws and rulings.
In that sense, this lifted ban is currently in very precarious position depending on how the Saudi system develops in the years to come. Some are going to argue that Prince Mohammed is on the correct path with bringing his nation in to line with what are 21st century realities. On the other hand, these actions according to older generations are blasphemous and fly in the face of the tenants of Islam. So, I cannot help but ask is anyone really winning in this situation?
None the less, the closest I can come to understanding that level of male dominated oppression would be for me to sit down and watch A Handmaid’s Tale. It gives me cause to reflect on just how thankful I am to have the rights that I do. That doesn’t negate the fact that there is still progress to be made in equal rights here at home, but just the simple fact that we as a nation came very close to our very first female president shows that we are by leaps and bounds going in the right direction. So, if I have a message I would want to give to the women of Saudi Arabia, I would leave with them the wise words of Maya Angelou: “You May Encounter Many Defeats, But You Must Not Be Defeated.”
If you have a positive message to leave for the women of Saudi Arabia, or just want to voice your opinion on recent events. Sound off below!
1.https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/23/middleeast/saudi-women-driving-ban-lifts-intl/index.html 2.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/03/opinion/saudi-arabia-monarchy-wahhabism.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FShariah%20(Islamic%20Law)&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection 3.https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/27/middleeast/saudi-women-still-cant-do-this/index.html