Women Drive for Change

by Bryan McGaw on November 2, 2013 - 1:12pm

        In this article posted by The Guardian on October 26th, 2013 speaks about women in Saudi Arabia protesting the ban on women not being allowed to drive. More than 60 women have been driving their cars in Saudi Arabia to protest the ban of women not allowed to drive. Aziza Youssef (a campaigner for the cause) has received videos and phone messages from women proving they are and claiming they are driving in protest. Aziza has said it is possible to verify that these messages are true, and that this would be the biggest protest against the ban of women driving in the country. There have been warnings from police and ultraconservatives that anyone caught driving would be arrested or ticketed, but no reports have come up of any of these punishments being carried out. There have been videos posted on the YouTube  channel October 26 driving for women group where women were driving in the cities of Riyadh, al-Ahsa and Jeddah where the ban is in place. "There were some cars that drove by. They were surprised, but it was just a glance. It is fine. They are not used to seeing women driving here,” said May al-Sawyan, a protester that uploaded a video to the YouTube channel. Aziza Youssef said that she and four other activists received calls from a top official who has links to the Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, telling them not to drive on October 26th and she reports that two “suspicious cars” have been following her everywhere all day. 3 of 30 members of the advisory council say that there needs to be reconsideration of the ban, there is no law that says women cant have licenses but they are not given them. They must rely on male drivers to get around. A man in favor of the ban said that a medical study shows that driving cars harms a woman’s ovaries.


            It is unfortunate that this must be an issue today in the world, a world where we have become so open to new ideas and ways of thinking. As I agree that this ban must be lifted in Saudi Arabia and women have the right to drive when and where they want without a male to accompany them, I think we can’t tell them how to be the people have to change at their own pace and accept this new idea.



I can’t believe that this is a problem in the world today. There are bigger problems in the world that people’s attention should be going to. Women should have equal rights as men. I know it is a different culture so they believe different things. But this is a simple problem that should be fixed by letting them have equal rights. I’m glad this topic was brought up because now everyone can see that the world isn’t all equal like we have it in the US.

I thought we were becoming a world that grants equal rights to all citizens, regardless of gender? The fact that this is an issue at all upsets me. What upsets and angers me more is that the world is slowly starting to accept and allow same sex marriages, especially here in the US, but an issue as small as whether or not women are allowed to drive a car to get from place to place is being banned. Women should as well as men be allowed to drive a car, regardless if it is an issue towards their health. All women, in every country should have equal rights as men, and I think the ban should be lifted. I'm glad I read this article because it made me see that the world isn't as "equal" as I thought it was.

Reading this article I am very surprised by the fact that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. In fact, I had never heard of this before. It really puts things into perspective in terms of how much freedom people in the United States have. We really take it for granted that all people regardless of gender are legally allowed to drive when they reach 16 years old in New York. But, what really stuck out to me was that “a man in favor of the ban said that a medical study shows that driving cars harms a woman’s ovaries.” I personally do not know if there are certain religious or strict social reasons for women not being allowed to drive because I am not well educated on the subject. But to me, it appears that men in Saudi Arabia are preventing women from driving based on complete falsities and lies about health complications. From what I know, I can guess that women’s ovaries are not harmed by driving cars (unless they get in a serious accident where their lower abdomen is injured) and I would ask why the men of the country are doing this. I definitely agree with you that this ban should be lifted. Overall, this blog post really made me think about how really anybody can get on the road in the United States and I also want to do a little more research on this topic to see what real reasons men in Saudi Arabia have for this ban.

I do not see how this ban benefits anyone. The ban is literally just a waste of time. I took and passed my road test when I was 18. As happy as I was to finally have my license, my parents were happier. We all lead busy lives and taking time out their schedules to take me, a legal adult, to work and to doctor’s appointments was a hassle. As I was reading your post, I was searching for the reasoning behind what I find to be nothing but a power trip for men. I was baffled when I reached the line about driving harming ovaries. Trying to understand how driving could have this drastic impact, I did some research. Basically I found that this claim has no medical backing, and the man who made this statement didn't even attempt to provide evidence. I've linked an opinion piece at the bottom that discusses the situation. The writer compared the ovary explanation to adults feeding children little white lies to get them to do things. Like how my grandmother used to me I would turn into a pumpkin if I stayed up past midnight. Just the fear made me go to bed well before midnight. The article provides a few examples of these kinds of lies as well, and it makes for an interesting read. The situation is ridiculous and the reasoning behind it is nonsense. The ban should absolutely be lifted.

The fact that women still do not have equal rights is just sad in my opinion. I did not even know that in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive because where I’m from, our women have equal rights. However, the rights that citizens of the United States have are taken for granted because we as a society do not see how good we really have it. This reminds me of the Seneca Falls Convention which pushed for equal rights of women and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, which abolished wage disparities based on sex. With all the laws and movements made for women to gain equal rights, it is sad that places like Saudi Arabia still do not see their women as equal. They need to open up the roadway to women because that is not fair.
I could not imagine what independent women in the United States would do if they could not drive. My mom drives to work everyday, so if suddenly my mom was not legally allowed to drive, I do not know how she would function without depending on someone. In addition, at the age of 16 teenagers are allowed to obtain a learner’s permit in NY State and eventually get a license at 18. This shows that in the United States any and everyone can drive if they want to. However, I do not understand how driving could harm a woman’s ovaries. The only viable scenario I could see where a woman’s ovaries might be at risk is if she is caught in an accident and hurts her lower abdomen. Overall, your post caught my eye and made me realize how many things I take for granted living in the United States. Also, I agree with you that the ban should be lifted.

The issue of women’s rights is an issue that many countries who have empowered women still struggle with today. Here in the United States women are still fighting for equal rights. Woman in the United States have come a long way and are now currently fighting for equal pay in the work place. Although the United States and Saudi Arabia are completely different places they are both developing women’s rights. Saudi Arabia has a long way to go still, but they are at the point where women were in America not to long ago. The road to change starts here for the women in Saudi Arabia. This ban should be lifted and when it is the women of Saudi Arabia will be one step closer to equality. I think this post was very well done and has a very good viewpoint of how and why things are the way they are. Also I liked how you shared how different it is compared to other places.

This is a very interesting topic that has become a major issue in the Middle East, and all over the world. The struggle for women’s rights is often a concept that is hard for our “Western” mind to grasp. Growing up in a society where seemingly men and women are treated equal, it is very difficult for us to see how women can be treated so harshly and granted no rights in other countries. Although I am 100% for women’s rights and having them is able to have the same privileges as men an important thing that I have learned from my sociology class is that there a lot more cultural values and traditions that go along with it. Even though I don’t agree with the traditional Muslim values and culture, the patriarchal lifestyle that they live in is deeply rooted in to their society. I believe that the Arabic cultures need to become more tolerant and accepting of women and their place in society. The world has evolved and become more accepting and their values and practices need to adjust accordingly to that. In your article I really liked how much detail you put in describing the situation and protests that are occurring in Saudi Arabia. It helped give me a better understanding of what was specifically going on and I also liked how you then talked about the broader issue of women’s right in the Arabic society. Overall I think you did an excellent job at presenting this issue!

I agree with the previous comments: it is a complete nonsense. It is known that in Saudi Arabia, a country from the NASWA realm, that women's rights have been limited in the name of the Sharia (the Islamic law). Women in this country can not drive, vote, travel if they are under 45 years old, have access to a proper education, etc. It is one of the most contested issue in this realm, the place of women in the society. A lot of violations happen everyday that are denounced by international organizations like Amnesty International. I am happy to see that women are protesting this extremely important and urgent issue because equality is a must in order to have a developed and efficient society. I believe that women's rights are human's rights. We need to protect them and help women in Saudi Arabia to have a better life, the life a human being deserves.

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