Women in Saudi Arabia are celebrating a huge milestone in their journey towards equality, most recently marked by the end of a nearly 60-year ban on driving.
Women were officially allowed to begin driving on June 24, but the end to the world’s last existing ban on women driving was announced in September 2017 with Vision 2030, a series of initiatives to improve the economy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Many took to Twitter to share photos and videos of women behind the wheel and with their newly acquired licenses.
WATCH: One of the first women in Saudi Arabia driving a car for the 1st time.
This is a great step in advancing women's rights and equality. pic.twitter.com/DKGjazuZ4H
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) June 24, 2018
While this is a big moment for gender equality in the Kingdom, the biggest driving factor in the decision to end the ban was for economic benefit. According to a report from Quartz Media, although Saudi women are more educated, they only comprise one in five employees in Saudi Arabia’s workforce. The driving ban, in addition to underdeveloped public transportation, made it increasingly difficult for women to get to work. Now, more women will have the ability and independence to enter the workforce and maintain their jobs without the pressure of depending on a male guardian or paying for a driving service.
Ride-hailing services are also recognizing the importance of the ban lift and are making their platforms more inclusive of women moving forward.
Careem, a ride-hailing service based in Dubai, plans to have at least 20,000 women signed up as drivers in Saudi Arabia by 2020: “We are delighted to welcome these pioneering women to Careem and in line with Careem’s commitment to create job opportunities across the wider Middle East region,” said Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha.
Similarly, Uber will not only hire more women drivers, the company also plans to rollout a feature in the fall allowing women passengers to set a preference for women drivers, according to Forbes Middle East.
“By empowering female entrepreneurs, Uber is proud to provide the same economic opportunities currently enjoyed by male drivers across the Kingdom,” said Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, VP & Head of Operations for Uber EMEA to Forbes Middle East. “We have partnered with Saudi women to explore how Uber can work for them, and we will continue listening as we build the future of urban mobility in Saudi Arabia together.”