The Saudi Arabian government said on Monday that more than 120,000 women have registered to obtain a driver’s license, after the authorities withdrew the ban on driving women on Sunday, in a measure considered historic.
To date, Saudi Arabia was the only state that prohibited the driving of women. The change was made possible thanks to the new policies of the crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman, who promotes in the kingdom the new initiative of the authorities called Vision 2030.
This program plans to gradually change the social status of the female population, in a country that still has one of the most restrictive legislation for women. In fact, much of the predominantly young population of the kingdom supports the reforms, but many Saudis are concerned that the changes are taking place “too quickly” and fear they may provoke a negative response from conservative religious, until recently considered dominant.
Social openness has also been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including the arrest in the last month of more than a dozen activists who had previously campaigned for women’s right to drive. In this regard, Amnesty International (AI) has appreciated the decision of the Saudi authorities to allow women to drive, but warns that the measure should be followed by further reforms.
AI denounces that, “under Saudi Arabia’s repressive guardianship system, women and girls suffer systematic discrimination in legislation and in practice,” and recalls that Saudi women can not travel, have paid jobs or pursue higher education without the permission of a male tutor.
They also need the approval of a ‘guardian’ to marry or divorce, enter a public hospital or open a bank account. In addition, Saudi women married to foreigners can not pass on their nationality to their children, unlike Saudi men in a similar situation.