While there is no written law that directly prohibits a women drivers in Saudi Arabia, a locally issued license that is not available to women is required to drive.
Some of the reasons for not allowing women to drive include:
- Driving a car involves uncovering the face.
- Driving a car may lead women to go out of the house more often.
- Driving a car may lead women to have interaction with non-mahram males, for example at traffic accidents.
- Women driving cars may lead to overcrowding the streets and many young men may be deprived of the opportunity to drive.
- Driving would be the first step in an erosion of traditional values, such as gender segregation.
In fact, a statement made by a Saudi cleric went as far to say that the location of a woman’s ovaries makes driving unhealthy and even claims that this is why families in Western countries are so small!
During a protest last October, whereby Saudi women took to the streets and even posted videos of themselves driving on YouTube, Manal al-Sharif explains why the driving ban limits Saudi women’s freedom of autonomy:
| YouTube |
Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia need to radically change, and starting with the right of mobility is a practical place to start.