Starting in June, Saudi women will be allowed to drive cars without permission from a male guardian. Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world that forbade women to drive.
One taboo falls, many others remain. But the ban on driving had become for Saudi women’s rights activists the symbol of their discrimination. “It’s not about driving, it’s about living,” says Manal al-Sharif, who helped lead the charge. She had gotten behind the wheel in defiance of the bans, despite threats of imprisonment — where others did end up — and then posted a video of herself on social media, which quickly became viral. That was the first victory. Some activists, such as the journalist Wajeha Al Huwaider, have paid with their jobs.
The ability to drive comes after the right to vote and to be run for office — but without showing their face and without the right to contact male voters.