Screenshot of video posted by Wajeha al-Huwaider driving along public streets in Saudi Arabia, which was illegal in 2008. (YouTube)

In a matter of hours, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive

Change was announced as a royal decree in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammen bin Salman

It’s a landmark day for women in Saudi Arabia, who will soon be sitting in the driver’s seat after the country’s historic driving ban is lifted.

In a matter of hours, the ban on women drivers will come to an end. Women will no longer have to pay for private male chauffeurs to get around.

Saudi Arabia remained the only country in the world to have such a ban until midnight GMT.

The change was announced as a royal decree in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammen bin Salman, about 25 years after women were arrested for driving in the central city of Riyadh in 1990.

On International Women’s Day in 2008, Wajeha al-Huwaider made international headlines when she posted a video driving alone as part of a social media campaign called Women2Drive.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive for the first time

What followed, was a culmination of years of activism by women in the ultra-conservative country.

Women were issued driver’s licenses earlier in June in preperation for the law’s amendment. Since then, many have been taking lessons to prepare for hitting the road alone.

This week, Amnesty International called the reversal of the ban a “testament to the bravery and determination” of women’s rights activists – some of whom remain detained.

“Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef are among eight activists still being detained in Saudi Arabia for their peaceful human rights work,” Amnesty International said in a news release.

“Some have been detained without charge for more than one month, and may face trial before the counter-terror court and up to 20 years in prison for their activism.”

The international rights group said the lifting off the ban “must now be followed by reforms to end a whole range of discriminatory laws and practices,” including ridding of the contentious guardianship system, which means women are unable to travel, engage in paid work or higher education, or marry without the permission of a male guardian.

The driving ban will be lifted at midnight in Saudi Arabia, or 2 p.m. PST.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

“Pumpkin” is available for adoption at Old MacDonalds Kennels. (Facebook photo)
Old MacDonald Kennels sounding the alarm over number of cats in care

An expansion is underway at Old MacDonald Kennels

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
Five-year-old boy fighting cancer celebrates Halloween with reverse trick-or-treating in Wetaskiwin

Wetaskiwin Fire Department made a special stop for Dawson Jackson.

A man runs across the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘No manual or checklist:’ Yukon ditching fall time change this year

The territory decided to adopt year-round daylight time in March

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wednesday, Aug., 5, 2020. Despite its status as an artificial intelligence hub, Canada has yet to develop a regulatory regime to deal with issues of privacy, discrimination and accountability to which AI systems are prone, prompting calls for regulation from businesses and experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Canada crawling toward AI regulatory regime, but experts say reform is urgent

5 million images of shoppers collected without consent at Canadian malls

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

<strong>Spooky spectacles:</strong> Halloween decorations seen around Ponoka. Photos by Karen Douglass
PHOTOS: Ponoka ready for Halloween

Spooky spectacles: Halloween decorations seen around Ponoka. Photos by Karen Douglass By… Continue reading

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read