We recently reported that a prominent Saudi cleric believed that women in his country could not drive because they had only 25% of the brain capacity of their male counterparts.
As absurd as it sounds, many still believed him but thankfully, the nation’s King- Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud does not share his sentiments.
In a groundbreaking decision- the monarch has issued an order which allows women in the country to drive- “ending a longstanding policy that epitomized gender discrimination in the Middle East for years.”
As reported by Patheos:
It’s long overdue, but it’s an advancement in women’s rights and that’s something to celebrate. For a theocracy in which people are routinely oppressed for not following religious rules, this is a welcome change of pace.
There are other benefits, too. The move easing driving restrictions for women “has huge implications for the Saudi economy and women’s ability to work,” according to CNN’s report.
It is just the latest in a series of changes that have been rippling through Saudi Arabia since the rise of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The crown prince, known casually as “MBS,” is spearheading an ambitious plan to reform and transform the Saudi economy by 2030 and, in line with that goal, increase the number of women in the workforce. Bin Salman, who was appointed by his father to the position of crown prince in June, is seen as a major power in the country and is expected by many to be named king before too long.
Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah, a former education minister in Saudi Arabia, also foreshadowed these events in May.
“Let me tell you about our leadership’s view on women,” he said. “Never mind driving a car, which is coming, no doubt … I want her to drive society.”
While the news is a welcome change, the implementation of the new order will not occur overnight. It is projected that women will be on the roads by spring of next year.
This change will take effect in June of 2018 and it’s just the most recent example of the advancement of women’s rights across the Middle East and other areas heavily influenced by Islam. Saudi Arabia allowed women into its national stadium for the first time last week, and the Republic of Tunisia officially allowed women to marry non-Muslim men just a few days ago.
Not everyone is on board with the changes, but they are coming. “There are always going to be fundamentalists who have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The important thing is that they are being dragged, and those in positions of power are the ones pulling them along. It’s not enough — not yet — but it’s a big step in the right direction.”
How do you think the changes will affect the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Do you think with the Saudis making strides to reform, that other nations in the Middle East will follow suit? Let us know in the comment section below.
(Article by Tasha Sharifa)