Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a historic royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom as of next June.
The royal decree issued on Tuesday also ordered the establishment of a high-level committee of involving the ministries of internal affairs, finance, labor and social development. They will be tasked with studying the arrangements of the edict within 30 days and to ensure the full implementation of the order by June 2018.
“The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike,” the Saudi Press Agency said.
“This is a great victory for many Saudi women. This was the one file and issue which Saudi women have fought not just years, but decades for. Every time we asked, we were told the time was not right. When we asked those previous from this men and women who said we didn’t need to drive, King Salman,” Latifa Shaalan, a Saudi female member of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council, told Al Arabiya.
In a Tweet United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed the decision as well as the US State Department commended the Kingdom on the move, calling it a positive step.
I welcome Saudi Arabia's decision to lift the ban on women drivers. An important step in the right direction.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 27, 2017
Ivanka Trump called the decision a historic one for Saudi Arabian women.
1:2 Today was a historic day for women in Saudi Arabia as a decree was announced to lift the ban on women drivers. #SaudiArabia— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) September 27, 2017
“This will have a huge impact on Saudi Arabia’s economy. We have to remember that our kingdom produces more female graduates compared to our male counterparts,” Ghada Ghunaim, Saudi writer and journalist told Al Arabiya.
In Saudi Arabia, most families depend on private drivers to personally help transport their female relatives to school, work and other places.
According to the latest statistics, there are nearly 800,000 men, most from South Asia, who work solely as drivers to Saudi women.
Ghunaim told Al Arabiya English Tuesday’s royal decree will inevitably also help poor and middle-class families.
“A lot of families in Saudi Arabia are not able to afford paying a driver a monthly salary, this royal decree will help ease a lot of families who struggle with their women not being able to drive,” she added.