Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Saudi Women Should Drop the Right to Owing a Driver’s License

I have recently heard a discussion about Saudi women’s rights. One of the issues that was discussed is the battle over women’s right to get a driver’s license and another debate whether Saudi woman should be allowed to work in a mall or not.

I believe both debates are not in place. For me it sounds weird that Saudi women are trying to get a driver’s license without fighting to be recognized as equal citizens. Owning a driver’s license is a result not a right. There are so many women around the world who have no cars or driver’s license though they have the right to but they can go every day to work and they can compete with men. If western women can afford a car or two, they own it because it is freedom and it is a means to run errands and go to work.

It is not the issue of driving per se. It is the issue of finding the way to insert somewhere this simple statement “Saudi citizens are equal in rights and responsibilities”. I have to admit I am ignorant about Saudi legislation, but there must be a way to insert this statement somewhere in their Islamic legislation or jurisprudence to be the launch pad for countless rights, one of them will be the driver’s license.

It is meaningless to keep asking for the breadcrumbs and agree to be part of the breadcrumb argument. The breadcrumb or the driver’s license will be probably thrown upon the heads of Saudi women for show at certain point in time but not for real intention to make them equal citizens. Driver's license or working in a mall is not the core battle for true citizenship.


At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont believe Saudi women feel having a driver's license is the most paramount right to be had, however I think they are fighting it one battle at a time, you have to fight for the slice before you can take the whole cake. (lots of food analogies huh, bread crumbs, cake) For Saudi women having the right to drive is the most attainable and visable right. If they can accomplish that then they will move on to other things and eventually achieve equality.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger CDN in FL said...


I'm so glad you've started writing again ... thank you! It seems odd, from a Western perspective, that something so seemingly benign as a license to drive can create such controversy. While winning one battle at a time may weaken the defenses of those in the ruling majority (males)I feel that it will be a cold day in Hades before driving and working in a mall will suddenly project itself into equality.

It's the mindset that will need to change before real progress can be achieved ... not driving a vehicle. This will only occur through either education of the population or mandated by the government and both scenarios will take years (generations) to be accepted by society.

I wish you luck, health and more writing ... of course.

Keep the faith!


At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Woodrow Jarvis Hill said...

I agree with Shobrawy -- I think you'll find that many Civil Rights movements began with such an approach. The one closest to me, the American Black Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, really began with small points. One is, of course, Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat, and the subsequent city-wide boycott by blacks and supports of the bus systems is one example. Sit-ins, where blacks simply sat at counters where only white people were supposed to sit.
Or the early Feminist movement in America, which focused on gaining women the right to vote. That's not to say there weren't many other efforts at that time, but the core was focused on one issue, that they could apply most of their energy and pressure on.

Full Civil Rights, full equality, is very very hard to achieve in one jump. Moreover, the fight is one that takes so long that you risk losing the troops over time. Giving people smaller, more maintainable and reachable goals keeps your people focused and energetic, and that can make all the difference in a multi-generational fight.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Freedom for Egyptians said...

Shobrawy, I agree with you that Driver's License is not a priority. In fact Saudi women like having drivers, it is affordable for them. But I do not see that if I got a driver's license I can vote or I can nominate myself for a council. The argument does not exist in the first place.

cdn in fl, well I am trying to be back.

Woodrow, I diagree with your argument it is true that Rosa Parker started a nationwide movement to eliminate racial segregation, but you had the beginning right. You had the Declaration of Independence that paved the way for the Declaration of Senitiments that led to women's rights. Beginnings are always imperfect but they should be right to lay the basis for other rights that come on the way like women's and minorities' rights...etc.

I think fighting for a driver's license leads to nothing, at least from my own point of view. There is no basis for the argument...

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back FFE! Great piece. CDN, the mindset in Saudi will not change overnight. While I agree that a driver's license is a small thing, and I agree that ultimately the mindset must change, initial baby steps must take place before a mass movement could ever be successful.

FFE, you are right that the declaration of independence laid the foundation for the women's movement in America. However, the DofI stated that "all men were created equal." You may argue that "people" was the correct interpretation of this phrase or not. Either way, it is significant that even in the very racist early 20th century society of America, Black men received the right to vote before women did.

Even in america, women's liberation occurred by baby steps.

At 3:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good,Saudi is full of contradicitions,it's haram to drive and haram to be with a strange man(like a driver)in a concealed place like a car,what would they do then,How do they get to their places?

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Cairogal said...

I'm curious to know what percentage of the Saudi female population feels as though they are not equal. For some, permission to drive might be a baby step to great equality, but I suspect many women would be happy enough to get from point A to point B on their own, with not aspirations for 'equality'.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Sam said...

الامير نايف :المرأة السعودية قد تنتخب ولكن لن تقود سيارة
GMT 12:14:21 2006 الثلائاء 14 نوفمبر


الكويت (رويترز) - وجه وزير الداخلية السعودي الامير نايف بن عبد العزيز ضربة للآمال في السماح قريبا للمرأة السعودية بقيادة السيارات في المملكة غير أنه قال في مقابلة نشرت يوم الثلاثاء انهن قد يحصلن على بعض الحقوق الخاصة بالتصويت.

وكان حق المرأة في قيادة السيارة مطلبا رئيسيا للاصلاحيين بالمملكة الحليفة للولايات المتحدة ويؤيده بعض الوزراء بالحكومة.

لكن تأييد الامير نايف سيكون مهما لاي اصلاح.

وقال الامير نايف الاخ غير الشقيق للملك عبد الله لصحيفة الانباء الكويتية "ان هذا الموضوع شأن عام ومن المؤسف أن هذا الامر أصبح قضية وهي لا تستحق.. واستغربت من طرح هذا الموضوع."

وأضاف "ملكية المرأة للسيارة أو لاي شيء من حقها ويقر الاسلام ذلك لها.. لكن قيادتها للسيارة في مناطقنا ذات البيئة الصحراوية والمسافات المتباعدة فيما بين حي واخر تعرض حياتها للخطر وهو ما لا نقبله كولاة أمر."

ويخشى رجال الدين ذوو النفوذ بالمملكة من أن قيادة المرأة للسيارة من شأنها أن تشجعها على الاختلاط بالرجال خارج نطاق الاسرة. وينفذ الحظر في المدن وعلى الطرق الرئيسية حيث تعتمد النساء على سائقين غير سعوديين غير أن تقارير تشير الى أن الحظر يتم التهاون فيه في بعض الاحيان.

وقال وزير الداخلية السعودي "سننظر في امكانية مشاركة المرأة في الانتخابات البلدية خلال الفترة المقبلة.. (وهو) ما يعزز دورها الاجتماعي في القدرة على مناقشة مشاكلها وايجاد حلول لها من خلال مشاركتها في الانتخاب والترشيح لتمثل أخواتها في المجالس البلدية عن مناطق المملكة."

وأجرت السعودية العام الماضي انتخابات على نصف مقاعد المجالس البلدية بعد دعوات بالاصلاح السياسي من الداخل والخارج. ومنعت المرأة من التصويت أو الترشح غير أن مسؤولين قالوا ان بامكانها المشاركة في الانتخابات المستقبلية.

ولا توجد أحزاب بالسعودية التي تتبع نظاما ملكيا مطلقا.


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