The slogan today is “Honk if you support Saudi Women.”
As arabnews.com, well put it, the women behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia today “drive home a point” about the need for reform for women’s rights — specifically their legal inability to obtain a driver’s license and drive a car.
Women in Saudi Arabia have been encouraged to take individual action by driving on June 17, running errands in their cars “just as their husbands and brothers and fathers do.”
Most of those Saudi women driving today have driver’s licenses they received when living abroad, or they are women from other countries now living in Saudi Arabi.
I admire those women who are driving today. Being in a car on the streets of Alkhobar is different from being part of a mob of 1,000 or even 100 on the streets of Alkhobar. These women are more individually vulnerable. The women drivers whose faces or cars can be identified in YouTube videos or photos presented in the media are taking a personal risk in this act of civil disobedience.
I’m heartened (and relieved) to read the tweets, Facebook posts and news articles that quote Saudi men as supporting the Saudi women. But many of those who are now saying they will teach their wives and daughters to drive or that they were in the passenger seat today as their wife drove to the store didn’t feel that motivation or have the challenge to make such a statement until the Women2Drive movement.
I value the role social media and the traditional media are having in this movement. The coverage of the arrest and then release of Saudi Manal Al-Sharif for driving helped mobilize the Women2Drive movement. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs have been a buzz today with updates on women who are driving, who are stopped by the police, who are arrested and, thankfully, released. The social media have put an international spotlight on today’s driving adventure, which has helped in tempering the Saudi response, I would think.
Those of us in education don’t have to be teaching driver’s education to see the potential for learning and educational reform that can be promoted by Women2Drive. Women who can obtain a driver’s license are more equal citizens and have more choices. If Saudi women can take the wheel in driving to the store, they also will be able to take the wheel in other aspects of their lives.
I’m honking for the Saudi women who drove today and for all those who have been actively supporting them.