Steps Toward a More Equal Society Equality for women in Saudi Arabia
Around the world, women have been able to drive, but Saudi Arabian women were just recently allowed to drive as of Tuesday the 26th of September, and it will be in action June of 2018. Saudi Arabia banned women from driving in 1990. “[This policy is] ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the oppression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom,” according to the New York Times.
Now that the 14,871,936 women who formerly were unable to drive are allowed to, 1.4 million personal drivers, hired mostly for driving women to work, are out of jobs. The government hopes that by giving women the ability to drive themselves, more women will be motivated and pushed to work. The idea is that the women might be able to help boost up the economy. “Ending the driving ban should bring broad economic benefits, and help the government meet its target of generating 65% of GDP from the private sector,” according to CNN Money.
Many companies and employers will be saving money from the ban being lifted; employers often include the cost of drivers in women’s salaries. Some businesses even have gone as far as locating factories and offices in city centers for more convenience.
Just because women will be allowed to drive doesn’t mean that they will be less segregated or be treated equally. Most hospitals, banks, and medical colleges are still segregated; Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and the royal family are likely to be taking a step back and being conscious in their actions of giving the women more freedom. There are many ultra conservative, religious, and high ranking authorities and business owners who have run things very strictly and whom would certainly not be inclined to dramatically change their ways.
One major and well know example of a conservative expectation would be the ‘Male Guardianship System’. This system requires women to be controlled from birth till death. “We all have to live in the borders of the boxes our dads or husbands draw for us.” —Zahra, 25-year-old Saudi woman, April 7, 2016 according to Human Rights Watch.
It seems as though Saudi Arabia and the prince are taking steps a more equal society, but they definitely have a long way to go.