(Photo: Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters)
As the only country with a ban on women driving, Saudi Arabia has announced that in June of 2018 women will be allowed to drive cars. According to deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, however, the country is “not convinced about women driving”.
Some assume that the ban is related to Islam, but the prince insisted, “Women driving is not a religious issue as much as it is an issue that relates to the community itself that either accepts it or refuses it.”
Previously, the prince has spoken out about empowering Saudi women, such as in an interview when he stated that he believes women have rights within the Islamic religion that they have yet to obtain. He has mentioned also that allowing women to work would increase productivity within Saudi Arabia.
However, women in Saudi Arabia have yet to see any real improvements. Recently Ivanka Trump praised Saudi Arabia for its progress in gender equality. In response, Saudi Arabian activist Manal al-Sharif asks, “What type of progress in women’s rights? I wish she was more specific so I wouldn’t feel insulted. If you don’t want to support us, just stay quiet. Don’t praise. You’re making it worse for us.”
While support from world leaders is always nice, sentiment can be better measured by actions and both Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud’s and Ivanka Trump’s have yet to really act on their words.