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.  

More

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information