Driving = Freedom

How far should one go to exert their freedom? For one woman, it became a matter of necessity, not just a frivolous escapade.

Saudi Arabian women have had their share of difficulties, especially when it pertains to what is considered “acceptable”. Women in Saudi Arabia have not been treated as equals, especially in the case of driving.

Driving, an activity that most people take for granted, has recently ignited tensions between men and women Gender strife has always been present but more so this past month when one woman, Manal al-Sharif, decided to drive a car without any male companion with her. What caught the world’s attention is not the fact that she drove, but that she went against her culture and videotaped the activity for others to see.

In the Saudi Arabian culture, women are not allowed to drive nor take public transportation. In order for any woman to go anywhere, a male family member or a hired driver must drive her. It is this religious edict that has forced al-Sharif to take matters into her own hands. According to al-Sharif, it is prohibitively expensive to hire a driver and waiting for someone to drive her is frustrating.

Out of desperation to be free of this ban, al-Sharif took it upon herself to get behind the wheel and videotape it for others to view on YouTube. It was her intention to alert the rest of the world of how important it was for Saudi Arabian women to drive. Al-Sharif believes that Saudi women need to drive as a way to help their family in the event of emergencies. Although she was arrested for driving and publicly voicing her opinions for the world to see, so many men and women have rallied to support al-Sharif in her endeavors.

It is amazing to me that in this day and age, there are still cultures that don’t consider women as equals. A simple activity, such as driving, has become a significant symbol of equality for Saudi women and al-Sharif’s courage has created a movement, Women2Drive, encouraging women to continue the fight for equality. On June 17th, supporters of Women2Drive, wherever they may be, can post pictures of themselves behind the wheel and post it on Facebook. What an incredible way to support one woman’s determination, to break free of inequality and open the doors for other women to do the same. That’s my take on this, what’s yours?

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