When will Saudi women drive?


Every time I meet someone from outside Saudi Arabia, the conversation always ends in the same question: “How long do you think it will be before women in Saudi are allowed to drive?”

I wish I had a simple answer for this issue, which should, by basic human rights, be much less complex than it is. But before I address this, I will answer another common question: “Why don’t – or rather can’t – women drive in Saudi Arabia?”

In fact, the Saudi government has never issued a royal decree stipulating the ban, nor even imposed a system. (In Saudi Arabia, there are systems rather than laws: from a religious point of view, laws are considered to be in violation of Shari’ah, because they come from a human perspective).

The ban is merely based on the Ministry of Interior, which was issued in 1990 in response to the first women’s movement demanding the right to drive. The decree, which forbids women to drive on Saudi Arabian territory, did not specify a punishment.

It was reasserted by the Ministry on October 25, 2013, one day before the date on which Saudi women had chosen to launch a third driving campaign which is still held on a monthly basis.

As represented in statements given by the new Interior Minister Mohamed bin Naif and his father who was the former Interior Minister, Naif bin Abdulaziz, both insist that the Interior Ministry is an executive and not a legislative body, that it is not responsible for the ban.

If we examine the Basic System of Governance, which corresponds to something like a constitution in the rest of the world, Article 8 states “governance in Saudi Arabia is to be conducted on the basis of justice, equality and consultation in accordance with Shari’ah”. And if we look at the Saudi system relating to traffic, we do not find any provision or stipulation preventing women from obtaining a driving licence.

These are the only two sources we have to consider in connection with this issue. The statement released by the Ministry of Interior in 1990 is rendered null and void by the fact that it was not based on the governing system.

But on the occasions that I and many others have tried to obtain a driver’s licence from the traffic department, we have been surprised, upon entering our identification numbers into the relevant system, to find an error message appearing on the screen: “The ID number entered belongs to a woman, it is not possible for a woman to obtain a driving licence”.

When I raised the issue with the administrative court in November 2011, wishing to make a case against the General Directorate of Traffic, and pointing out the lack of legal ban preventing a licence being issued to me, my case was referred to a special committee at the Ministry of Interior. In other words, to the very party I wished to prosecute.

When you hear the words “special committee” in Saudi Arabia, you know your case has been relegated to oblivion. And this has remained my fate until today.

We can conclude from all this that the Interior Minister is the executive body as well as being the issuer of the ban and the body that upholds it, which contradicts the statements made by both the Saudi Interior Ministers.

Now, a review of some of the reasons people give for the ban. Firstly, financial: influential families control the visa market for drivers. If they allowed women to drive, these families would lose huge financial returns from a market in which official figures indicate the existence of around a million drivers and which unofficial numbers suggest could contain as many as two million.

And secondly, a fatwa issued by Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Baz, issued concurrently with the Ministry of Interior’s 1990 decree and forbidding driving based on the Islamic principle of prohibiting that which might eventually lead to sin.

The justifications cited by the prohibition fatwa are nothing more than suppositions about what will happen to society if women are allowed to drive.

This has led to a situation in which denying women the right to drive, something which has no basis in the Muslim law, has taken precedence over prohibiting women to be alone with a non-Mahram male (which is prohibited in Shari’ah), as the woman inevitably must be chauffeured around.

In my opinion, the real reason is much simpler than all this. If a woman had asserted their right to drive since the day cars arrived in Saudi Arabia, it would by now be a routine matter and we would be dealing with none of the current clamour and uproar.

This is the reason that Bedouin women and women from the countryside drive comfortably outside of the city without being subject to hindrance or criticism. The banning of women from driving in the city is a result of the system of state that has been systemically imposed upon it; women in Saudi Arabia are considered minors under the law until the day that they die.

We will return now to the question that, in recent times, has become an ever more frequent topic of discussion: when will women in Saudi Arabia be able to drive? Many assume that the issue of allowing women to drive will be resolved with a royal decree, as happened with the appointment of 30 women in the Shura council in September 2011.

This decision, which was followed closely by many parties interested in the Saudi state of affairs, represented an attempt to improve the image of Saudi Arabia after a scandal involving an imprisoned woman driver garnered widespread attention.

But those who know anything about the distribution of power in Saudi Arabia know that there are several different competing parties within the royal family, each with its own ideologies and interests.

They also recognise that King Abdullah does not have the powers required to issue such a decree, and that the subject of women driving is entirely in the hands of the Interior Minister Mohammed bin Naif; the King has no authority when it comes to this department.

Will a positive decision be issued by the Ministry of Interior? That seems improbable. More than 24 years after the first attempt to abolish the women’s driving ban, there seems not to have been a single breakthrough; there are no driving schools for women, nor any female traffic police.

Saudi police are still intent on stopping any woman who dares to drive, booking her car and summoning her guardian-in-charge to sign a pledge not to allow her to do so.

The authorities, in effect, show no leniency towards women drivers, as we who were demanding the right to drive hoped they might have done. The authorities also worry that responding to demands to allow women to drive will damage the prestige of the state and open the door to other popular demands for social and perhaps political change.

When will women be able to drive? We must recognise that the Bedouin woman never ceased –since the horse and donkey were replaced with the car, or the side-dagger with a rifle – to use new inventions to ease her life and affairs. Whether in the farmlands or the desert of Saudi Arabia, not one of her fellow men dared to doubt her chastity, her morals or her religious belief.

Meanwhile, the woman of the city has willingly parted with her rights and allowed everyone to compromise them, or else to use them for political gain or as a red herring to distract people from more salient issues.

In my opinion, freedom is a personal decision, not a political one. When the Saudi woman realises this fact, she will get in her car and drive it as many times as it takes for it to become a common sight, forcing the authorities to regulate the phenomenon rather than prosecute it.

And when she learns that rights are seized rather than granted, she will recognise how to eliminate the male dominion that has been imposed on her and cast her as a minor her whole life.

http://www.islamistgate.com/566

Manal Al Sherif


I ran into this by accident.. My eyes filled with tears.. And women are still minors in my country.. and women are still not able to drive..

Saudiwoman's Weblog

A couple of weeks back an event page was created on Facebook calling on women to drive their cars on June 17th. The page was started by a group of individuals, one of whom was Manal Al Sharif. As news of the page got around, it caused a lot of controversy and more Facebook pages. The pages that were created are reflective of the different types of reaction such a call has caused in Saudis. One of the pages is a campaign for Saudi to whip women who drive on June 17th and another is simply an anti women driving campaign page. The former has over 1900 supporters and the latter has 2800 supporters. On top of that we have a sheikh Dr. Al Habdan who has made it his personal mission to make sure no woman drives in Saudi. He has called on the PVPV to…

View original post 864 more words

NEWSWEEK: Riding Shotgun With The Woman Driving Change in Saudi Arabia


Riding Shotgun With The Woman Driving Change in Saudi Arabia

By  / November 07 2013 10:03 AM

 

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that there are three types of people in this world: “those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” Manal al-Sharif, a 34-year-old computer scientist, is in the process of moving something momentous – the Saudi Arabian cultural taboo of allowing the women to get behind a wheel.

But her activism is in the face of a repressed kingdom. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy and the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. Sunni and tribal tradition define the rights of its 20 million women. “People are completely isolated in decision making,” she says.

And yet, al-Sharif’s protest movement is having more effect than just the future of women drivers. In the same way the frustrations and actions of Mohammed Bouazizi – the Tunisian fruit seller who launched the Jasmine Revolution that paved the way for the rest of the Arab Spring – some see al-Sharif as the catalyst for a much larger change.

“I call it the ‘Women’s Spring’ in Saudi,” she says. The al-Saud rulers, she says, are cracking down on dissidents out of fear that the waves from the Arab Spring will spread to the kingdom. But she remains undeterred.

And she is quickly becoming the face of change. Foreign Policy named her one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011, and her words and actions are spreading throughout the region.

“Manal is no doubt one of world’s best examples of people who can move others – even if laws, customs, habits, and powerful governments are opposing her noble attempt,” says Srdja Popovic from CANVAS, a Belgrade-based think tank that trains peaceful revolutionaries around the world.

Popovic – who 13 years ago helped overthrow the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic – knows political defiance. His other pupils included the Egyptian April 6 movement, as well as Syrian and Iranian activists. He calls al-Sharif, “one of my heroes.”

Women are not technically banned by Saudi law from driving; they are only prevented from obtaining Saudi driver’s licenses or using foreign licenses. Because of the ban, Saudi women are largely forced to rely on male relatives or chauffeurs for transportation. Women who try otherwise are usually stopped by police, who call their male guardian.

In 1990, a group of women protested the ban and were so severely punished – by travel bans, detention and slanderous sermons during Friday prayers – that no one tried to challenge the ban again for more than two decades. That is, until Manal al-Sharif decided to get behind a wheel.

Al-Sharif’s odyssey – from a young, divorced mother to prominent dissident, a word she had to look up in the dictionary – began in May 2011.

For four years she owned a car she was unable to drive, and she was fed up. She also realized there is no law in Saudi prohibiting women from driving – only constraints of culture and tradition.

A few days later, al-Sharif – in Jackie O sunglasses and a traditional black abaya – got behind the wheel of her Cadillac SUV. A friend in a flamboyant pink abaya filmed al-Sharif with her iPhone.

As she turned on her engine, al-Sharif remembers being “scared and excited.”

“I sat down and buckled up … Then I said, ‘Bismillah’ [in the name of God], and I drove,” she says. “My feeling was that you have a bird… this bird is in this cage his whole life… Then suddenly you open the door, and the bird hesitates: ‘Should I leave? Should I stay?’ ”

Al-Sharif pressed the gas pedal and flew “through the bars.”

The women drove through the streets of Khober, in the Eastern Province of the kingdom, for eight minutes. They filmed as they went. A few days later, the religious police detained al-Sharif for six hours, but the video had already received 600,000 hits on YouTube. As the news spread, some women applauded al-Sharif, but others were appalled.

“There are many who don’t think what I am doing is good,” she says. “They are jealous, or they don’t want to change the way they are treated in Saudi society – like queens, or like pearls. Their husbands do everything for them.”

Her short drive was a triumph, but it also started a cycle of harassment that continues today. One cleric said to her, “You have just opened the gates of hell on yourself.” Another day, she opened an email to find a grim message: “Your grave is waiting.”

But al-Sharif was not intimidated. She and other supporters organized a grassroots campaign: designing a logo, alerting local media, and calling for all women to get out and drive on June 17 and to make videos of the trip. The reaction was like a tidal wave.

“The opponents kept telling us, ‘There are many wolves in the streets,’ ” she says. “ ‘They would rape you, they would harass you, and they would kidnap you if you drive a car.’ ” Al-Sharif decided she would prove that she would be the one to drive – and not get raped.

She also posted a survey which asked: “Do you want to drive on June 17?” Of the women she polled, 84 percent answered yes. Another question was, “Do you know how to drive?” Only 11 percent answered yes. So she and her campaigners started a driving school using volunteers as teachers.

Empowered, al-Sharif took her cause one step further. She borrowed her brother Mohammed’s car and went for a drive, passing a police officer en route.

She went to jail for nine days for “incitement to public disorder,” and Mohammed – who told her to “go for it” – was detained by police. When al-Sharif emerged from prison, she found she was the poster child for the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia.

“I call myself an accidental activist,” she says. “I did not even know what the word means.” Part of the activism, she said, went much deeper than just getting women to drive.

She grew up in the 1980s and 1990s in Mecca, where the school curriculum dedicates nearly 40 percent to teaching religion. She says she was brainwashed to the moral code of Saudis.

“We were taught we lived in a perfect society. But we were also taught that if we followed rules we went to heaven, and if we did not we would have hellfire.”

Her religious education, based on honor and fear, started when she was young. In the seventh grade, without knowing why, she was suddenly forbidden to play with a favorite cousin. He was a boy. They did not meet again for 10 years. She says she mourned not only the lost friendship, but also the implications of separating the sexes.

“I was so upset! We were just playing! We were just kids!” she says. “I was learning that people are controlled by fear.”

On holiday in Egypt with her parents and her brother and sister (now a doctor), al-Sharif saw Egyptian women confidently driving, their heads uncovered, their hair flowing. “I just hung my head out the window and stared at them. I could not believe it.”

Academic life was her release. Her working-class parents – her father was a truck driver, her mother a housewife – encouraged all three of their children to study. Her mother preferred that the girls did their homework rather than traditional women’s work.

“Mom didn’t really ask us to do anything around the house,” she says. “It was more important for her that we studied.” When al-Sharif graduated with high marks, she went into computer science, eventually working for Aramco, a national oil and natural gas company.

But there she saw more injustice: “women being bypassed for promotions and appraisals – just because they are women.”

She had her “own awakening” as a Muslim and as a woman watching the disturbing images of the Twin Towers burning on September 11. People were hurling themselves out of windows in an attempt to save their lives. Al-Sharif watched, horrified. “These men [who did that] were not heroes, but killers” she says.

Sent for a year by Aramco to Boston, she had another eye-opener. She rented her own apartment, drove her own car, and no longer needed her father’s signature to travel. Returning to Saudi was a painful lesson.

“I had to go to my father to sign papers for me to do anything,” she says. “I could not pick up my son from school.” Having lived and experienced freedom outside the kingdom, she realized she could not go back to living with injustice.

She devoted herself to more activist causes inside Saudi, but in May 2012 Aramco finally managed to push her out of her job.

“There are two faces to this country,” she says. “It’s a hypocritical society. Educated men travel outside Saudi, and they see women driving, women with uncovered heads. They think it’s fine. Then they get back here, and their views are different.”

On October 26, al-Sharif and other activists urged all Saudi women to stand up and take their destiny in their own hands, and drive. The result was that hundreds of women got out in the streets and drove, and 16,000 signed a petition that demands the government lift the ban or, at minimum, give a “valid and legal justification” for the prohibition.

It was a personal triumph. And last year, al-Sharif remarried a Brazilian man, Raphael, whom she met at Aramco. Even that – a private decision – was not easy. She had to get permission from the Ministry of Interior to marry a foreigner – and was refused. She married outside Saudi, but her ex-husband won’t let her son travel outside the kingdom. So to see him, she commutes between Saudi and Dubai, where she found a new job.

Still, her travel is monitored, and she is on a surveillance list. On October 26, the movement’s webpage was hacked.

But it has not stopped her, nor is she afraid. She is currently writing an autobiography, travelling to activist conferences around the world and speaking out. Loudly. She says that like other Arab revolutions, once people realize they are being denied their freedoms, they cannot turn their backs.

It’s like that first time behind the wheel of her Cadillac. “I have this feeling that you just need to jump,” she says. “To trust yourself. “

 

http://www.newsweek.com/riding-shotgun-woman-driving-change-saudi-arabia-2770

Glamour: The Story That’s Inspired The World


In Saudi Arabia, women are banned from driving. Yes, in 2013. Yes, because they’re women. Angry? YES. In defiance, equality campaigner Manal al-Sharif posted a YouTube video of her behind the wheel. Despite death threats, she won’t be deterred. Here is one of the most inspirational women you’ll ever meet.

“The moment I first thought, ‘Oh God, what have I got myself into?’ was on my second day in jail, in May 2011 – my ‘crime’ was driving my car and encouraging other women to do the same by posting a clip of it on YouTube. I’d been allowed to call my family, who told me my five-year-old son – Abdullah, or Aboody for short – had been hospitalised. I was in a filthy, overcrowded cell. I was terrified, but I was also very, very angry.

Three days earlier I’d posted the ‘Saudi Girl Driving’ video online – 800,000 people saw it in just 24 hours. If you ask anyone across the world about Saudi Arabia, the one thing they usually know is that women are not allowed to drive. My protest – as part of my activism for equal-rights campaign group Right2Dignity – came about after I visited the doctor’s one night and couldn’t get a lift home. It was 9pm, and as I walked to find a taxi, I was shouted at by men driving past. One followed me for 15 minutes and only drove off after I threw a rock. I cried in anger, thinking, ‘This cannot be happening; I am 32, I have an international driving licence, a US licence, and a car I can’t drive.’

The next day, a colleague told me there’s no actual law banning women driving, it’s just a societal norm. I couldn’t believe it, so, a few days later, I went out and drove my car in protest, while my friend, Wajiha, filmed it.

It was one of those crazy moments where you just do something without thinking about the consequences. We drove for an hour and it was so much fun. It was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m driving and no one is stopping me!’ I wanted to see people’s reactions to witnessing a woman driving. I wanted to provoke men. I’d stop at traffic lights and make eye contact with them. I drove to a busy supermarket car park and got out. People were staring at me in disbelief.

Back home, I uploaded the clip to YouTube. My campaign group uses social media to effect change – I realised technology could help the cause, as Saudis are huge YouTube viewers and Tweeters. My experience ignited the idea for Right2Drive – we called for Saudi women with international driving licences to go out and drive on June 17, a month later.

Testing the waters, a few days later I got back into the driver’s seat, this time with my brother, to see if the authorities would act if poked again. They did. We were stopped and held at the police station for six hours, and I was made to sign a pledge to say I wouldn’t do it again – not because it was against the law, but because it was against social convention and I’d incited others.

We finally got home at midnight. Aboody was asleep upstairs and the house was full of my activist friends, eating pizza, working on laptops and watching TV. They were so excited – I was all over the news. We saw it as a huge victory; we’d established that no official law existed to stop women driving. However, at 2am, nine people knocked on the door to take us away again. I was frightened, but a work official called and assured me it was nothing to worry about and I should go. I didn’t even look into Aboody’s room before I left – I didn’t want to wake him and I was sure I’d see him in a few hours. It turns out they lied to me and I was thrown into jail, without trial.

I was released after nine days, but I had no idea getting into my car that day would offend so many people. People threatened to rape and kill me. They called my office screaming that I’d opened the doors of hell. My picture was on the front page of the newspapers. I was the most attacked woman in Saudi Arabia.

It’s caused me a lot of pain and I have had moments of feeling defeated. I was put under so much pressure at work – they didn’t like my campaigning – that in April 2012 I resigned. That meant I lost my home, too, as it was rented through the company. It would be impossible for me to get another job in Saudi Arabia, so I moved to Dubai with my new husband, Rafael, and set up my own information-security business.

I couldn’t get Aboody out of the country – my ex-husband would not give me my son, and the law in Saudi Arabia is always on the side of men. Aboody lives with his grandmother, a one-hour flight from me, and I go and see him every weekend. It’s very sad and I could just sit and cry and regret what’s happened to me, but I want to write a happy ending to this story for my son.

There are so many injustices that Right2Dignity is trying to change. Driving is just part of it. A woman who was caught driving recently said she was inspired by me, and I thought, ‘Yes!’ We Saudi women need to be courageous and speak up – first, with these small things, and then take action with the bigger things: it’s the ripple effect. We’re now calling for a law to criminalise domestic violence.

Years ago in Britain, women fought hard to live the way you do today, and that’s what we want in Saudi Arabia. Never take your freedoms for granted. I can’t change my reality right now, but I can affect what happens for women who come after me.”

More about Manal’s incredible story is in the June issue of GLAMOUR, out now.

 http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/news/features/2013/05/manal-al-sharif-saudi-arabia-story

متى تقود المرأة السعودية السيارة؟


سؤال المليارات التي يحولها السائقون سنوياً خارج الوطن، سؤال الاستفزاز الجاهز وسؤال القطيعة المحتمة بين المؤيد والمعارض..  هل فعلاً نعرف متى ستقود النساء في أرض المليوني سائق؟   عندما يصلني الدور على الإجابة أشعر برغبة عارمة في الضحك لأن المرأة تسأل كل من حولها عن أمر بيدها وحدها أن تغيره.. هل تظنون أن الحكومات حول العالم استيقظت يوماً من النوم صارخة: (لقد شاهدت رؤية في المنام تأمرني أن أعطي النساء حقوقهن).. وهكذا نالت النساء حقوقهن في دول العالم المتقدم.. وعاشوا في سبات ونبات وتوتة توتة خلصت الحدوتة..

ماذا يعني أن يتم حسم أمر مشاركة المرأة السياسية وهي عنق الزجاجة في ملف المرأة الشائك والمكهرب، بينما تظل الحكومة متمثلة في وزارة الداخلية ترفض قبول النساء في مدارس تعليم القيادة وترفض استصدار رخص القيادة للنساء؟ هل نتعلم من تاريخ دول مجاورة مثل قطر التي كانت الدولة قبل الأخيرة في استصدار الرخص للنساء في عام ١٩٩٧؟ نعم ما زلنا نحمل وبكل (فشيلة) المركز الأخير بين الأمم. سيتم اتهامي بالتحريض وإثارة الرأي العام وغيرها من التهم الجاهزة على رف المزايدين على الوطنية (اللي مقطعة بعضها).. لكن قبل اصدار الحكم هل للقاريء الكريم أن (يوسع صدره) ويكمل بقية التدوينة؟

سأضع بين أيديكم خلاصة ما جمعته عن الموضوع في السنتين الماضيتين:

١- المسؤولون في كل مقابلة مع وسيلة إعلام أجنبية يصرحون أنهم مع حق المرأة في القيادة لكن (المجتمع غير جاهز)- يادي المجتمع اللي صار علاقة لكل فشل في التخطيط.

٢- المسؤولون في الداخل إما يتجاهلون أو يتخذون ردات فعل متشنجة (إيقاف، تعهدات، سجن، تشهير، تهديد، مضايقات في العمل، إلخ) وكأنهم بذلك يساهمون مشكورين مساهمة فعالة في تجهيز المجتمع الغير جاهز أصلاً وكله حسب تصريحاتهم للإعلام الأجنبي.

٣- مجلس الشورى المستحي جداً والمتردد جداً لمناقشة عريضة قيادة المرأة ومازال في أخذ ورد يشاور نفسه، ويبدو أنه أخيراً رُحم من هذا الخجل حين أضاءت الإشارة الخضراء من (الناس اللي فوق).

٣- التيار الديني أوالمحافظ منقسم بين مؤيد ومعارض.. والمعارضة  من باب سد الذرائع التي وصلت للتحريم، في مخالفة لأسس التشريع الإسلامي التي لن يسامحهم عليها التاريخ حين تم تحريم أمر بدون نص صريح من كتاب أو سنة.. حتى أن الإمام الألباني ضحك على سؤال أحدهم (هل يجوز أن تقود المرأة السيارة؟) وكان رده (إن كان يجوز لها أن تقود الحمارة في عهد الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم فيجوز لها أن تقود السيارة)  فقال السائل: هناك فرق بين الحمارة والسيارة، فقال الشيخ : وأيهما أستر؟ ركوب الحمارة أم ركوب السيارة؟ أكيد السيارة ..! انتهى كلامه.

٤- التيار المنفتح أو الليبرالي (ليبرالي ليست مسبة بل على العكس المتأمل في أسس الشريعة الإسلامية يجدها قائمة على أساس ليبرالي، أي التعايش مع الآخر المختلف عنا “لكم دينكم ولي دين” وأساس العدالة الإجتماعية التي تساوي بين الجميع بدون تفرقة على أساس اللون أو الجنس أو حتى الدين والمذهب)..  المهم أن التيار الليبرالي أيضاً منقسم فمنهم المتجاهل، ومنهم المهاجم على أساس أن هناك ما هو أولى وأهم، ومنهم المتحمس الصادق، ومنهم المستغل للموضوع لتصفية حساباته مع التيارات الأخرى.

٥- أصحاب مكاتب الاستقدام وشركات سيارات الأجرة، لا يخفى على أحد أن ملَّاكها و أرباحها تصب في جيوب المتنفذين من عليَّة القوم والهوامير. ذكرت لي صديقة مقربة منهم أن عائلة واحدة فقط من المتنفذين تملك ٧٠٪ من مكاتب الإستقدام حول المملكة تدر عليهم سنوياً ما يفوق ٨٠٠ مليون ريال! وعلى الرغم من أن العهدة على الراوي لكنني أميل لتصديق روايتها حين أرى الحملة الشرسة على أي تغيير لوضع قائم حتى لو كان بإنشاء شبكة مواصلات عامة في بلد المليوني كيلومتر مربع!

٦- المجتمع المغلوب على أمره، الذي يشبه كثيراً الذبيحة على طاولة العشاء، فالكل يريد أن يفوز بالهبرة الأكبر.

٧- النساء أنفسهن، وهن الطرف المهم الأهم الذي سيحسم هذا الجدل الدائر منذ عقود. فلا شرع يحرم، ولا نظام المرور يمنع، وهن نصف المجتمع والأمر عائد لهن، أي أن القرار قرارهن، على الرغم من منعنا من دخول مدارس القيادة إلا أن أخي علمني كيف أقود، وعلى الرغم من الحرمان من استخراج الرخص، استخرجت رخصة خليجية من دولة الإمارات، وعلى الرغم من الإيقاف والتعهد وحتى السجن وحملة التشهير وتشويه السمعة الذي تعرضت لها، مازلت أقود سيارتي كلما أحتجت ولم يتم إيقافي ثانية حتى اليوم.

لم تتوقف المرأة البدوية أو الريفية، منذ استبدلت الدابة بالسيارة والجنبية بالبندق، لم تتوقف عن استخدام ما جادت به المخترعات الحديثة لتسيير حياتها وشؤونها في صحرائنا أو ريفنا، ولن يجرؤ أحد أن يشكك في عفتها أو دينها أو أخلاقها لأنها ببساطة ستضع فوهة البندقية في وجه من يجرؤ.. ولن يجرؤ.. في حين تنازلت امرأة المدينة عن حقوقها وبرضاها هي، وسمحت للغادي والرائح على مساومتها على حقوقها أو المتاجرة بها أو استخدامها كورقة رابحة لإشغال الناس عن ما هو أهم.

الحرية قرار شخصي وليست قراراً سياسياً! متى ما تعلمت المرأة السعودية الدرس ستقود السيارة وستلغي نظام الولاية وستلغي الظلم الواقع عليها في المحاكم وستنال بقية الحقوق المسلوبة.. يومها فقط ستدرك أن الحقوق تُنزع ولا تُستجدى! نقطة!

وقفة: في العالم المتقدم مسؤول يعني مسؤولية ومسائلة على قراراته وخططه ومشاريعه لأنه مؤتمن على وطن وأرواح.. بينما المسؤولية عندنا أصبحت تشريف ومنصب وجاه، ثم نسأل لماذا انتشر الفساد وضاعت الحقوق بينما نحن أول من يلام حين ضيعنا حتى لغتنا ونسينا أن المسؤول في الأصل جاء من المسائلة (وقفوهم إنهم مسؤولون)!

بكل فخر غير صالح للنشر

Dangerous driver: Manal al-Sharif after defying Saudi ban on women driving


Freedom is to Live with Dignity

“I want to document the truth for my son. My family is afraid. I have had death threats. But they know they cannot stop me. They messed with the wrong woman”

Manal al-Sharif

This article was taken from the January 2013 issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired’s articles in print before they’re posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online.

On May 19, 2011, Manal al-Sharif, a divorced mother of two and internet security consultant for Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian national oil company, was filmed by a friend driving through the city of Khobar. She posted the eight-minute video on YouTube, and in it she says in Arabic: “We are ignorant and illiterate when it comes to driving. You’ll find a woman with a PhD and she doesn’t know how to drive. We want change in the country.”

Within two days the video was watched 600,000 times on YouTube. Then she was arrested.

“The religious police came into my house at 2am,” Al-Sharif, 33, told the Wired 2012 conference in London last October. “They took me and my brother. I was detained for nine days. My picture was on the front of all the newspapers, all saying horrible things about me.”

In Saudi Arabia, al-Sharif’s bravery emboldened an existing campaign, Women2Drive, which promotes women’s right to drive — something that’s banned.

“There’s no actual law — it’s an unwritten law,” says al-Sharif. “I was mad, because the day before I had to walk for 40 minutes from my clinic to my house and cars were honking and following me.”

For al-Sharif, the real issue is not just driving, but human rights.

“For instance, in Saudi Arabia all women, even married ones, need permission from a male guardian to work or study,” she says.

According to her, the movement is making a difference. In September 2011, King Abdullah gave women the vote. Last May, al-Sharif was awarded the Václav Havel prize for creative dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum.

“I asked my bosses for permission to go to the ceremony in Oslo,” she says. “They refused and told me that they didn’t want their name associated with me. I resigned.” Now living in Dubai, al-Sharif is currently taking time off to write a book, entitled Kingdom of Saudi Men.

“So many lies have been told about what I did,” she says. “I want to document the truth for my son. My family is afraid. I have had death threats. But they know they cannot stop me. They messed with the wrong woman.”

manal-alsharif.com

http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2013/01/start/dangerous-driver

أريد وظيفة لا قيادة سيارة!


خرجت بعض المغردات على موقع التواصل الاجتماعي «تويتر» بهاشتاق «أنا عاطلة أريد وظيفة لا قيادة سيارة»، وسجلن في تغريداته  مطالباتهن لعضوات مجلس الشورى المعينات بجعل ملف البطالة أولوية عند مناقشة قضايا المرأة، خصوصاً أن نسبة البطالة بين النساء بلغت ٨٤ في المئة، بحسب تصريح وزير العمل الأخير، وأبدين امتعاضهن من «غياب حس الأولويات» عند من يؤيد حق المرأة السعودية في قيادة السيارة… ردت المؤيدات لحق القيادة بالامتعاض أيضاً، إذ كتبن «مع غياب المواصلات العامة، والنقل المؤسساتي الآمن، ثلث الراتب سيذهب للسائق، هذا إن وجد وكان ملتزماً في مواعيده»، وهي حقيقة، إذ ذكرت لي مرة مديرة مركز سيدات الأعمال في الغرفة التجارية في المنطقة الشرقية هند الزاهد، أن أكثر من ٦٠ في المئة من العاطلات اللاتي رفضن الوظائف التي عُرضت عليهن ذكرن سببين لذلك، الأول: عدم توفر المواصلات، أو أن المواصلات تستنفد الجزء الأكبر من الراتب، والسبب الآخر عدم موافقة ولي الأمر – مع تحفظي على مسمى ولي أمر لامرأة بالغة راشدة.

لست هنا للدخول في معمعة الجدال العقيم الذي استمر لما يزيد على العقدين في موضوع تجاوزته كل بلاد الدنيا، لكنني هنا لتسجيل بعض ما يدور بخلدي كلما رأيت الحزبين «المؤيد والمعارض» في مد وجزر عند مناقشة أحد الحقوق… بداية اسمحوا لي أن أطرح بعض التساؤلات التي سأترك إجاباتها للقارئ الكريم: هل الحقوق مجزأة، أم كُل لا يتجزأ؟ هل الحقوق يُصوت عليها؟ من يحدد الأولويات في سلم الحقوق؟ هل الأولويات واحدة عند الجميع، أم كل بحسب حاجته؟ هل المطالبة بحق من الحقوق سيعطل الحصول على البقية؟ أيهما أجدى بالجهد: المطالبة بما تراه أولوية عندك، أم مهاجمة من يطالب بغير ذلك؟ هل سمعت يوماً بشخص طالب «بعدم منحه حقوقه»؟ لكن السؤال الأهم: هل يحق لمن تنازل عن حقوقه، أو الراضي بالوضع القائم، لعب دور الوصي لإخراس البقية؟

تخيل أن بحر الحقوق ما هو إلا قطرات كثيرة ومتتالية من المطر، فلولا القطرات ما كان البحر، وكذلك أي عمل، أو مطالبات تسعى لانتزاع حق أو لتحقيق مصلحة عامة، لن يتحقق ذلك إلا بجمع الأعمال الفردية التي يُضحي الفرد فيها بالكثير، ويواجه الكثير من أجل أن يُضاف عمله مع أعمال البقية لتحقيق الهدف الأكبر وهو الحصول على المواطنة الكاملة للمرأة السعودية… لو لم تكن من القطرات، لا تسخر من القطرات التي تهبط وتتجمع لتصنع البحر ولا تحاول قمعها… ولو كنت من القطرات لا تضيع وقتك في الدخول في جدال ومنازعات لا تقدم ولا تؤخر… لا تستصغر البقية، أو تستحقر عملها، فمن دونها ستظل مجرد قطرة تبخرها أول أشعة للشمس… كن فقط القطرة التي تصنع البحر.

أخرج ابن عساكر في تاريخ دمشق عن الأوزاعي قال: «إذا أراد الله بقوم شراً فتح عليهم الجدل ومنعهم العمل»… جعلنا الله ممن يعملون ولا يجادلون، وإذا كنا لا نعمل جعلنا الله ممن يتكلمون خيراً أو يصمتون.

قفشة: انتشرت صورة ميكروباص مكتوب على زجاجه الخلفي «لتوصيل الطالبات والمعلمات وعضوات مجلس الشورى»، أبشركم يتم تخصيص سيارات مع سائقيها لأعضاء وعضوات مجلس الشورى.

نشرته صحيفة الحياة

مقابلتي في برنامج سيرة وضيف – فرانس ٢٤


 

 

خطاب منتدى الحريات سان فرانسيسكو – عربي


الجمعة ٢٨ سبتمبر ٢٠١٢

صباح الخير، اسمي منال الشريف، أتيت من مملكة الرجال السعودية …

إنه لشرف كبير وغير متوقع تماماً أن أكون هنا، بينكم جميعاً، وبحضور الكثير من الأشخاص الذين أنظر لهم بإعجاب و لطالما وجدتهم مثل أعلا. داو أونغ سان سو تشي، يانغ جيانلي، مارينا نعمت، جميعكم قدوة بالنسبة لي. أنتم اثبات حقيقي أن الكفاح يستحق ذلك، وأنه يستلزم العزم والصبر لزحزحة الجبال التي تعوق طريقنا نحو الحرية الحقيقية والإزدهار. لو قال لي أحدهم قبل عام مضى أنني سأقف هذا الموقف اليوم لما صدقته، كنت حينها مجرد أم عزباءة تعمل في مجال أمن المعلومات لتعول أسرتها. وعلى الرغم من كوني اليوم لا أعمل لكنني أكثر سعادة ومعرفة بغايتي أكثر من أي وقت مضى.

تعلمت في العام الماضي مالم أتعلمه خلال ثلاثين عاماً من حياتي، ومن أهم ماتعلمت أن التحدث علنا عن وضع قائم ومسلم به لهو في الواقع من أصعب ماستقوم به في حياتك. في حالتي، كان الوضع الراهن هو تحدي الحظر القائم على قيادة النساء للسيارة في وطني. من في الخارج لن يستوعبوا الموضوع وقلة سيتفهمون عمق المشكلة، لأنها لا تمثل مشكلة أساساً في بقية العالم. ولكن في المملكة العربية السعودية، قيادة المرأة تتجاوز المسألة الدنيوية للإمساك بعجلة القيادة، إنها تشمل العواقب السياسية والاجتماعية والإقتصادية الناتجة عن رفع مثل هذا الحظر.

إن ما يعنيه رفع حظر التنقل للمرأة عند المؤسسة الدينية هو مايجعلهم متشددين في ابقاءه. كما أن الأموال التي تتدفق من استقدام أكثر من مليون سائق أجنبي من جنوب شرق آسيا لهي فرصة لتحقيق أرباح من الصعب التخلي عنها. والأهم من ذلك، دعوات التغيير من الشعب غير مرحب بها بتاتاً في ظل ملكية مطلقة تتطلب الولاء من مواطنيها كونها الحامي لمعتقدهم وخيراتهم.

ولعل ذلك يفسر درة الفعل العنيفة التي حصلت لي عندما رفعت فيديو على موقع اليوتيوب أتحدث فيه – أثناء قيادتي للسيارة- عن رفع الحظر واقتراح يوم ١٧ يونيو كيوم للبدء في تعويد بلادنا على رؤية نساء في مقعد قائد السيارة. كنت تحت انطباع خاطيء أن المجتمع السعودي بدأ بالإنفتاح تجاه هذا الموضوع وأن الحكومة تسعى أيضاً نحو اعطاء المزيد من الفرص للمرأة. لكن أعتقد أنني أخطأت في حساباتي، فعقاباً على (جريمتي) تم سجني لتسعة أيام، وقامت قيامة البلاد كلها بين مؤيد ومعارض. وخرج الكثير من أئمة المساجد في خطبة الجمعة لشجبي، حيث أطلقوا علي الألقاب من خائنة، ورجز من عمل الشيطان، ومتآمرة، حتى أن أحدهم تجاوز كل الحدود بدعوته لجلدي في مكان عام.

إن أولئك الذين رأوا المصلحة في سجني، فعلوا خيراً كبيراً بدون قصد لضمان نجاح مبادرة ١٧ يونيو، حيث خرجت عشرات النساء في ذلك اليوم للقيادة في الشوارع وتوثيق ذلك بالتصوير والرفع على موقع اليوتيوب. تلك النسوة لم يسبق لي أن ألتقيتهن، ولم يسمعن من قبل عني قبل سجني. خرجن للمشاركة في مبادرة ١٧ يونيو وخاطرن بأن يزج بهن في السجن، يسعدني أن أقول أن العقل انتصر ولم تسجن أي امرأة يومها، ومع ذلك حصلنا على أول مخالفة مرورية تحرر لامرأة في تاريخ السعودية.

لزملائي التقنيين، قبل سنوات قليلة لم أكن لأتمكن من الوصول إلى – أو حتى الاساءة إلى- هذا العدد الكبير من رجال بلدي ونسائه. في ظل ملكية مطلقة يتم اعتقال الناس بدون تهمة وأحياناً لسنوات ، إذا انشأوا منظمة غير حكومية، أو خرجوا للإحتجاج في الشارع أو حتى نشر مقال يشكك في الحكومة، لم تكن هناك منصات للمواطنين العاديين للتعبير عن آرائهم من خلالها. لم يكن ذلك ممكنا حتى جاءت وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي، ما يستخدمه العالم للحصول على المعلومات أو الترفيه والبقاء على اتصال مع العائلة والأصدقاء، أصبح في السعودية صندوق للديموقراطية، منبرنا العنيد، ونعم وسيلة للتنفيس ودرع للحماية.

وقد لعبت وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي دوراً محورياً في ضمان نمو مبادرة ١٧ يونيو إلى حملة كاملة، لا تشمل فقط رفع الحظر عن قيادة النساء، بل أكثر بكثير من ذلك. ومن خلال وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي ولدت حملة “حقي كرامتي” ذات القاعدة الشعبية الكبيرة، وازداد عدد أعضاءها ليشمل الآلاف من الرجال والنساء في جميع أنحاء البلاد. الطريقة الوحيدة التي تتواصل فيها الحملة مع أعضاءها من خلال وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي. وحيث أن الصحافة المحلية لن تغطي مطالبنا، فإننا نرسل أخبارنا والعرائض والبيانات، من خلال تويتر. لم نكن لنقطع شوطا بعيدا دون تويتر.

يسمي البعض حركتنا “ربيع المرأة السعودية”، ولكن دعونا نكون جادين، مازلنا خلف نقطة البداية لتلك الثورات حيث ٥٠٪ من الشعب مازلن لم يحصلن على الحقوق الأساسية التي يراها الآخرين من الأمور المسلم بها في طريق كفاحهم نحو ديموقراطية حقيقية.

ومع ذلك، فإنه يسعدني أن أخبركم عن بعض التغييرات الإيجابية التي حصلت في العام الماضي:

  • على الرغم من أن التربية البدنية مازالت لا تشكل جزءاً من المنهج الدراسي في المدارس الحكومية للبنات، والوصول إلى المرافق الرياضية أمر نادر الحدوث بالنسبة للمرأة السعودية، لكنني سعيدة أننا أخيراً، كما يحتمل أنكم جميعاً سمعتم، قمنا بإنجاز تاريخي بفتح الباب أمام تواجد المرأة السعودية للمنافسة في دورة الألعاب الأولمبية في لندن هذا العام.

  • في يونيو من عام ٢٠١١، أصدر الملك عبدالله مرسوماً ملكياً يسمح للنساء بالعمل في أماكن البيع بالتجزئة وشغل وظائف كبائعات أو محاسبات. ورغم أن المواصلات وقوانين الوصاية تظل عقبة في طريق تمكين المرأة، إلا أن المرسوم وفر لما يقارب أربعين ألف امرأة وسيلة لإعالة أنفسهن وأسرهن.
  • في سبتمبر ٢٠١١، أصدر الملك عبدالله مرسوماً تاريخياً ينص على منح النساء حق التصويت والترشح في المجالس البلدية في الإنتخابات البلدية المقبلة، وحق العضوية الكاملة في مجلس الشورى. وإن كان لا يمكن إنكار أنه يظل يزعج معظم السعوديين أن يتم تعيين أعضاء مجلس الشورى من قبل الملك بدلاً من التصويت عليهم من قبل الشعب.
  • بحلول عام ٢٠١٢ وصل أعداد المبتعثين للدراسة في الخارج أكثر من ١٣١ ألف،، مايقارب نصفهم طالبات. وعلى الرغم من أن الكثير منهن يدرسن تخصصات لمهن غير مرخص لهن بمزاولتها في السعودية، كمهنة المحاماة. آمل أنه وبحلول الوقت الذي ينهين فيه دراستهن ويعدن من الخارج، ستتم إزالة هذه العقبة وتتمكن الأمة من الاستفادة الكاملة من استثمارها.

ماوراء حدود السعودية، تلقينا جميع أنواع التضامن التي آمل أن تنظر لها السلطات السعودية كتشجيع وليس كتحدي، من بين أمور كثيرة أود ذكر أمرين اثنين:

  • كان شرف عظيم حصولي على جائزة فاسلاف هافل في أوسلو سابقاً هذا العام.

  • كما حرك مشاعري الكثير من أعمال الفنانين الذي أعلنوا عن تضامنهم معنا بأعمالهم الفنية وأذكر منهم مغنية البوب البريطانية (ميا) وأغنيتها (الفتيات المتمردات) – حصلت هذه الأغنية على ما يزيد من ٢٦ مليون مشاهدة منذ عرضها على موقع اليوتيوب.

كما قلت سابقاً، في هذه الملكية المطلقة اليافعة التي لم تبلغ من العمر ٨٠ عاماً فقط، هناك مجال بسيط جداً للمواطنين العاديين للتعبير عن ما يقلقهم أو الحصول على منصة يتحدثون منها. لا يوجد ممثلين للشعب بسلطة تشريعية أو تنفيذية، وجرت العادة أن يفرض التغيير إما من الأعلى إلى الأسفل أو من خلال المؤسسات الدينية والقبلية التي يتم استبعاد النساء تماماً منها.

إن وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي، وخطابات كالخطاب الذي ألقيه الآن، هي الأدوات الرئيسية التي تتوفر للنساء السعوديات اللاتي يرغبن في انهاء التمييز ضدهن، ليبنين وطناً يعامل كل مواطن، بصرف النظر عن جنسه، بكرامة واحترام.

أعمل مع حملة (حقي كرامتي) نحو سعودية لا تحتاج فيها المرأة الراشدة إلى إذن ابنها للسفر، ولا تحتاج فيها النساء لإذن ولي أمر عنفها لتخرج من دار الحماية التي هربت منه إليها، سعودية تتمكن فيها المرأة من الحصول على وسيلة لإعالة نفسها، سعودية تحتفظ بها البنت بحق طفولتها. كل ما نريده مملكة عربية سعودية تحترم إنسانية المرأة.

لقد قيل لي في السابق: (إنه الوقت الغير مناسب، إذا كنت تحبين وطنك فعليك الانتظار)

وأود أن أجيب عليهم:

لأنني فخورة بكوني امرأة سعودية، ولأني أحب وطني، لن انتظر. إن حقوق المرأة ليست مصلحة خاصة ولا مكسب. حقوق المرأة أو غيابها يؤثر على المجتمع بأكمله. إن المجتمعات التي تبقي المرأة في المقعد الخلفي، ستبقى دوماً في الجانب الخطأ من التاريخ.

San Francisco Freedom Forum Speech


Good morning, my name is Manal al Sharif, I come from the kingdom of Saudi men…

It is an immense and totally unexpected honor to be here, among all of you, and in the presence of so many people I admire and have looked up to. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Yang Jianli, Marina Nemat, you are all role models for me. You are living proof that the struggle is worth it and that it takes both determination and patience to move the mountains that hinder our path to true freedom and prosperity.

If someone told me a year ago that I would be standing here today I would not have believed it. Back then I was just a single mom who worked as an information security specialist to support her family. Although, I am unemployed today, I am happier and more filled with purpose than ever.

Recently I have I learnt that speaking out against the status quo is indeed the most difficult thing to do.

In my case, the status quo I had challenged was my nation’s ban on women driving. For outsiders the issue is hard to grapple with. Few can understand the depth of the issue as it is such a non issue in the rest of the world. But in Saudi Arabia women driving goes beyond the mundane matter of a woman getting her hands on the wheel. It is all about the political, social and economical consequences of lifting such ban.

The freedom of movement that lifting the ban implies is what has the conservative factions within our society so rigid about maintaining it. The money raked from importing over a million foreign drivers from South East Asia to drive women around is an opportunity for profit that many are not willing to relinquish. And more importantly, calls for change from the people are not welcomed at all in an absolute monarchy that demands allegiance from its citizens by professing to be the sole protectors of their faith and well-fare.

This might explain the backlash I got when I uploaded a YouTube video in which I talked – while driving – about lifting the ban and proposed June 17th as a day to begin getting our country used to seeing women in the driver’s seat. I was under the false impression that Saudi society was opening up and that the government was also pushing towards more opportunities for women.

But I guess I miscalculated. For my ‘crime’ I was jailed for nine days while the whole country went into a frenzy, some criticizing and some in support. Many within the religious establishment took the Friday prayer sermon as an opportunity to condemn me. They called me a traitor, an evil doer, a conspirator and one cleric went as far as to say that I should have been flogged.

Those who saw fit to jail me unintentionally did a great deal to insure the success of theJune 17th movement; tens of women across the country took to the wheel with many of them uploading their own videos on YouTube. These were women I had never met, and who had never heard about me before I was jailed. They went out to join theJune 17th initiative and risked jail themselves. I am happy to say that sanity prevailed and not a single woman was jailed that day, yet we did get the first ever ticket issued to a woman in the history of Saudi.

For all my tech savvy, just a few years ago, I would never have been able to reach out – or to offend – so many of my countrymen and women. In an absolute monarchy where people are imprisoned without charge – sometimes for years, for starting an NGO, protesting in the streets or even publishing an essay that questions the government, there were no platforms from which average citizens could air their views.

Not until social media came along. What most in the world use for information, recreation and to stay in touch with family and friends, in Saudi Arabia has become a democratic sandbox, our personal bully pulpit, and yes, our comfort blanket and shield.

Social media has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the June 17th initiative grew into a whole campaign that encompassed not only the ban on women driving but so much more. Through social media a fluid and grass-root campaign was born, the Right to Dignity campaign, whose members have grown to thousands of Saudi men and women across the country. The only way that the campaign communicates with its members is through social media.

And since the local press will not cover our demands, we send our press releases, petitions and statements through Twitter. We would not have gotten very far without Twitter.

Some people have called our movement the Saudi Women’s Spring. But, let’s be serious, we are still way behind the starting point of those revolutions. 50% of our population is yet to achieve basic rights that others take for granted as they fight for real democracy.

Yet, I’m happy to report some positive changes have accrued in the last year:

Although physical education is still not a part of the state girl schools’ curriculum and access to sports facilities is rare for Saudi women, I’m happy that we’ve finally, as you’ve all probably heard, had the historic achievement of opening the door and having Saudi women compete in the Olympics.

In June 2011, King Abdullah decreed that women would be allowed to work openly in retail and take jobs such as sales clerks and cashiers. Although transportation and guardianship laws remain an obstacle in the way of women empowerment, this decree has allowed over 40 thousand women a means of supporting themselves and their families.

In September 2011, King Abdullah issued another landmark decree that women will have the right to stand and vote in future local elections and join the advisory Shura council as full members. Though there is no denying that it remains a stick in the throat for most Saudis that all 150 members of the council are appointed by the king rather than voted in by the people.

As of 2012 we have had 131 thousands undergraduate and postgraduate students studying abroad, almost half of them are girls despite the fact that many of the professions they are studying for are unlicensed for women in Saudi, such as practicing law. I hope that by the time they finish and come home that obstacle will be removed and the nation can take full advantage of their investment.

Beyond our borders we have received all kinds of solidarity that I hope Saudi authorities do not interpret as a challenge but as encouragement. Among many things I’d like to mention two:

I’m particularly proud of being the recipient of the Havel Prize which I received in Oslo earlier this year. And was move by the work of many artists who showed solidarity with our movement such as the beautiful pop star MIA and her song “Bad Girls”.

Like I said before, in this young absolute monarchy of only 80 years there is very little room for average citizens to voice their concerns or gain a platform. There are no representatives of the people with executive power and a push for change has traditionally either been imposed from the top down or pushed for through tribal and religious establishments that women are completely excluded from.

Social media and speeches like the one I’m giving right now are the main tools that are available to Saudi women who want to absolve the gender apartheid and build a better and stronger Saudi Arabia where every citizen, regardless of sex, is treated with dignity and respect.

The Right to Dignity campaign and I work towards a Saudi where an adult woman won’t have to need her son’s permission to travel, where women will not need the escort of their guardian abuser to leave the safe house they escaped him to, a Saudi where women can easily obtain a means of supporting themselves, a Saudi where it is unquestionable that a girl has a right to her childhood. All we want is a Saudi Arabia that respects the humanity of women.

I have been told before ( it’s not the right time, if you love your country you must wait)..

I would like to answer them:

I’m proud to be a Saudi women and because I love my country I will not wait. Women rights is not a special interest or a privilege. Women rights or lack of them affects the whole society! Societies that keep women in the back seat, will always be on the wrong side of history.