Women in Saudi Arabia can once again drive cars in the nation beginning June, after officials confirmed “requirements” for women drivers have finally been set throughout the Kingdom. Women drivers are now expected to be on the streets by June 24, the projected date that the driving ban on women will finally be lifted for the conservative State.
The news came from Mohammed al-Bassami, director general of the General Department of Traffic. He said in a statement that all the requirements for women drivers throughout the Kingdom have been established. This is after a royal decree last September 2017 that announced the “ending” of driving ban on women that lasted for almost a decade. Saudi Arabia is the only state to have such a prohibition.
The decree is an answer to countless years of Saudi women petitioning for the government to lift the ban, especially for some who have protested in the process.
Under the regulations, women at least 18 years old are eligible to apply for a driver’s license in Saudi Arabia. In order to prepare for women driver trainees, women driving schools have been prepared across five cities in the Kingdom. Teachers in these schools will involve Saudi women who have obtained their driver’s licenses abroad.
Meanwhile, it’s been clarified that women who obtained their licenses in other countries will have to go through a different screening procedure designed to assess their skills in driving. This was acknowledged by the statement, as quoted saying it’s no secret many women from the Kingdom have taken up driving lessons during their time abroad.
The move was part in parcel among the many more reforms that are being pushed through by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 32-year-old is also the primary driving force for Vision 2030, a series of reforms that seek to make sure Saudi Arabia is prepared for an era without a dependence on oil. Part of the initiative includes elevating women to be at least a third of the workforce, as it’s now just still at 22-percent.
The Crown Prince’s directives will finally allow women to have more flexibility when it comes to the jobs they want to have. For instance, women will now no longer need a man’s permission to start their own business.
Others who are vigilant said the reforms would only be cosmetic if the Prince does not dismantle the Saudi’s rigid guardianship system. This still requires women to ask permission from male relatives to travel, study, and do other activities.
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