Female Saudi drivers 'will reduce crashes'

29 September 2017, 12:11 | Robert Harris

A Saudi woman drives her car along a street in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah

Saudi Arabia Women

Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Tuesday issued a royal decree allowing women to drive in the kingdom.

He added that the United Nations agency would continue to explore avenues to build on the important milestone to advance the cause of women's rights both in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. By rallying Saudi female activists to raise global condemnation of the Kingdom's human rights practices, the government was left with no choice but to give women the right to drive cars. It's been a major factor keeping women at less than 20% of the labour force.

Many Saudi women rely on ride-sharing apps like Uber and Careem to take relish some freedom of movement.

This was evident a few days ago when Saudi women were allowed for the first time into the King Fahed Stadium to participate in national day festivals, attend musical concerts, and even join the public gender-mixed celebrations in the streets. Almana and 46 other women piled into cars and drove around the capital.

"But the arrests represented an assertion of power over the independent, politically influential clerics and sent a message that Prince Mohammed does not see himself as beholden to them as partners in government", Kinninmont told AFP.

They can not apply for a passport without the permission of a man.

The discrimination against women and their ability to drive has caused significant damage to the kingdom's reputation around the world, and lifting the controversial ban will go some way to offsetting some of the criticism.

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There is likely to be a rush by women to earn their driving licenses. Those women could simply start driving the vehicles they already own.

American automaker Ford's ad showed only the eyes of a woman in a rearview mirror with the words: "Welcome to the driver's seat".

Female executives have been named to important positions in the Saudi stock exchange, the right to work without the permission of a male guardian and the tens of thousands of women now working in the retail sector are also examples of natural shifts in Saudi society. Employers often require male guardians to approve the hiring of females.

Here are twelve things that women still can't do, but men can, in the country. Yet a man can divorce his wife unilaterally, without any legal justification. It can also save women the money they now spend on drivers and transportation.

Women can not have custody of a child once the child has reached a certain age: nine years of age for girls, and seven for boys. Sons can apply for citizenship, but the decision is at the discretion of the interior minister.

In September 2015, the Supreme Judicial Council granted women with custody of their children the right to handle all their affairs, but they still need permission from the children's father to travel outside the country. "We have to remember that our Kingdom produces more female graduates compared to our male counterparts".

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