Women are hitting the road in Saudi Arabia. Here's why it's a huge deal.
Photo by Yousef Doubisi/AFP/Getty Images.

Saudi Arabia has issued its first set of driver's licenses to women, marking a new era for women's rights in the country.

On June 4, 2018, 10 Saudi Arabian women received their licenses, and many more are on the way. Though these women already held driver's licenses from other countries, including Canada, the U.K., and Lebanon, they took a driving test before being granted licenses in Saudi Arabia.

The announcement came ahead of a ban on women driving that is set to be lifted on June 24. Saudi Arabia's King Salman decided to change the antiqued laws last year, and licenses are finally going into effect for thousands of women around the country. The country's Centre for International Communication has predicted 2,000 women will join that first group of 10 by next week, according to The Telegraph.


"The general directorate of traffic today started replacing international driving licenses recognized in the kingdom with Saudi licenses, in preparation for allowing women to drive," the official Saudi Press Agency said in a statement.

The move marks a historic victory for women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

The nation has long been criticized for its troubling treatment of women. It was the only country in the world where women were not allowed drive, and incredibly brave women activists have been fighting against the rule for years.

While we should absolutely celebrate this important feminist win, we should be careful in how we discuss Saudi Arabian women's lives and rights.

As predominately Muslim country, Saudi Arabia — like many religiously led nations — has subjected its women to many ideas and standards that are problematic. But Westerners often discuss women's rights in Saudi Arabia from a pitying perspective, which creates an air of superiority.

This response isn't OK, but it's kind of the pot calling the kettle black. With European countries like Ireland just reversing laws that prohibit abortions and America currently grappling with a pervasive culture of sexual assault, it's clear that all nations are still earning how to treat its women like equals.

Photo by Amer Hilabi/AFP/Getty Images.

Saudi Arabian women have fought long and hard for their right to get behind the wheel, and their actions will have implications for women around the world.

As evidenced in Ireland, the U.S., Kenya, and Saudi Arabia, women are fighting for their right to live freely, safely, and happy.

Now, Saudi Arabia's got the keys to keep the mission moving.  

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.