Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it plans to issue drivers licenses to women for the first time. Women won’t be allowed to drive immediately, but it’s a huge step forward for women in one of the world’s most repressively patriarchal societies.
Freedom of movement for women in Saudi Arabia remains a major human rights concern. The guardianship system, in which male relatives can exercise veto power over women’s rights to education, employment, or travel, is still in place. As difficult as that is for Saudi women, conditions are far worse for Saudi Arabia’s female migrant workers who often endure physical, sexual, and other abuses with little or no recourse to justice. Addressing those issues would be the next step for women’s rights following the end of the driving ban.