We were five women who launched a campaign for women’s driving in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We were able to collect around 3,000 signatures for a petition that we sent to King Abdullah Bin Abulaziz. Around 80% of those who signed the petition were women.
On Women’s Day, March 8th, 2008, I drove my car and made a video clip to support the driving campaign, and the video was released on YouTube. That video clip ensured that the driving campaign became known around the world. I thought at the time that it would be a matter of a few months before the Saudi authorities let women drive cars.
Five years later, there are no indications that this right will be granted to women. So, the fact is women might have to wait for years to gain the right to drive cars. Moreover, the situation is getting worse for women now. The Saudi authorities have limited the number of countries whose citizens can work as private drivers for Saudi families. This has raised the cost of hiring drivers.
Women suffer every day in order to get basic things done, like going to work or buying groceries. Also, many can’t work because they can’t find a driver at an affordable price.
Under these circumstances, we are demanding a transportation allowance from the Saudi government until they provide reliable public transportation in every Saudi city. The Saudi government has plenty of money and they can easily afford it. The government is preventing women from driving, so they should pay us so we can survive.
Wajeha al-Huwaider is the co-founder of the Society for Defending Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia.