So, the big breakthrough for feminism has arrived! Saudi Arabia will permit women to drive motor cars from next spring. Saudi was the last country in the world where women were not permitted behind the wheel (along with some Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan). But a royal decree has opened the road to the female motorist.
The Mrs Pankhurst of Saudi Arabia is Fawziah Al-Bakr, a university professor who has led the campaign for motoring liberation, heading a convoy of 47 women driving around Riyadh back in 1990. Good for her! The protest hampered her academic career, and some of the women drivers were denounced as immoral, but she took a brave stand – or should I say drive – for something she believed to be her entitlement.
It won’t be long before nearly all Saudi women will be driving their vehicles, powered by the cheap petrol available in this oil-rich state. They will then feel themselves free to drive the children to and from school and the family to and from shopping, play dates and after-school activities. Teenage offspring will be expecting their mothers to fetch them from their various social engagements late at night, and it won’t be long before the vehicles of Saudi mothers will bear the slogan “Mum’s Taxi Service”.
Saudi women will soon be driving elderly parents to the doctor and the dentist, and giving Great-Aunt Mariam a lift to the souk to pick up her favourite shopping items.
As Saudi men don’t drink alcohol, Saudi women will be spared the chore of driving sober while the menfolk imbibe, or collecting their spouses from various watering holes. But wives will no doubt soon be picking up husbands commuting from work.
With the increase of traffic occasioned by more people driving, they’ll soon know the joy of trying to find a place to park and the responsibilities of insurance, the equivalent of MOT checks and licence renewals.
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