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Saudi Arabia: Only Country In The World To Bar Women From Driving, Lifts Ban

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| September 27 , 2017 , 11:21 IST

The only country in the world that had restricted women from driving, Saudi Arabia, has now announced that women can legally drive and be issued drivers licences. Previously, the nation had gained negative publicity globally for its ultra-conservative rules regarding women, especially the driving ban.

The Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday announced that a royal order has been passed, allowing women to drive and that a new committee would be formed to implement the new ruling. Women holding legal drivers licences in other countries can drive in Saudi Arabia as well.

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Women's rights activists had been fighting for the right to drive since the 1990s, a part of their larger struggle for equality under law. Renowned women's rights activist in Saudi Arabia, Aziza Youssef, speaking to AP hailed the decision as a “great first step”.

Youssef added that the continue with their fight for equality and push for an end to the male guardianship laws under which male relatives are granted the final say on issues related to women, such as if the woman wants to marry, travel abroad and obtain a passport.

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Prince Khaled bin Salman, the new Saudi ambassador to the US hailed the move as a “huge step forward” for his country. He added the government in Saudi Arabia considers women driving to be a social issue and not a religious or cultural one, emphasising that the move did not come as a result of any international pressure.  

Salman clarified that now women would not legally need permission from a male guardian to get a driver’s license and nor will women need a guardian in the vehicle with them to drive.