Saudi Women Will Be Driving In June 2018 As Kingdom Harnesses Their Economic Power

A woman driving a car in Saudi Arabia in 2013. CreditFaisal Al Nasser/Reuters

A woman driving a car in Saudi Arabia in 2013. CreditFaisal Al Nasser/Reuters

There are few greater symbols of women's oppression worldwide than the prohibition against women driving in Saudi Arabia. AOC has lobbied against this absurd law for nearly a decade.  The New York Times reminds us:

Some said that it was inappropriate in Saudi culture for women to drive, or that male drivers would not know how to handle women in cars next to them. Others argued that allowing women to drive would lead to promiscuity and the collapse of the Saudi family. One cleric claimed — with no evidence — that driving harmed women’s ovaries.

Pure economics is part of the change promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king's young son charged with overhauling the kingdom's economy and society. Low oil prices have limited the government's ability to fund unneeded jobs. Women's incomes are critical in expanding economic demand in the kingdom. 

Saudi women are expected to legally hit the road in June 2018, after a period of training male police officers how to interact with women and teaching women how to drive. 

Earlier in 2017 King Salman bin Abdulaziz Saud issued an order allowing women to benefit from government services including education and healthcare without getting the permission of a male guardian. The decision came after spring 2017 outrage over the the election of Saudi Arabia to the UN's women's commission, whose role is to shape "global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women".

A Joke or Not?? Saudi Arabia Awarded Seat on Commission on the Status of Women

In an appalling act of absurdity, The UN Economic and Social Council voted days ago to award Saudi Arabia a four-year term on the Commission on the Status of Women. beginning in 2018 

“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “It’s absurd.”

“Every Saudi woman,” said Neuer, “must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia also bans women from driving cars.”

“I wish I could find the words to express how I feel right know. I’m ‘saudi’ and this feels like betrayal,” tweeted a self-described Saudi woman pursuing a doctorate in international human rights law in Australia.

Saudi Arabia was elected by a secret ballot last week of the U.N.’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Usually ECOSOC rubber-stamps nominations arranged behind closed doors by regional groups, however this time the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley  U.S. forced an election, to China’s chagrin.

The former governor of South Carolina is making a name for herself in New York and beyond, with her willingness to speak clearly. On Monday Ambassador Haley brings the entire UN Security Council to Washington for a series of first-ever meetings with key US officials including President Trump. 

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is serving this month as the President of the Security Council, a role that rotates each month among the five Permanent members: the U.S., Great Britain, France, China and Russia. There are 15 members of the group — but the others, right now including Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay are non-voting members.