Hey ladies, how many of you took public transportation or drove yourself somewhere today? Now imagine that because of social norms you weren’t allowed to intermingle with men, therefore leaving you with no option but to hire a personal driver to go about your daily life?
That’s what life is like for women in Saudi Arabia. But in order to change the status quo, women are planning to put the pedal to the metal today (June 17) for the Saudi Women’s Driving Initiative.
A month ago, in an effort to raise support for the campaign, Manal Alsharif got behind the wheel and put the video of her driving up on YouTube. She was arrested, but has been released from jail. Now, the social media initiative she started, #Women2Drive, is only growing stronger.
The Saudi women’s movement is not only gaining strength through social media, but also has a number of petitions on Change.org calling for support from the likes of Oprah and Hillary Clinton among other leaders.
So how can we help? By making some noise! Hop in a car, honk and announce your support for the ladies. Upload your video to YouTube and email the link to honkforsaudiwomen@gmail to see it added to the Honk for Saudi Women YouTube channel. That’s it! Oh, and don’t forget to tell your friends.
Before you get behind the camera, let’s clear up any assumptions. It is not against the laws of Islam for a woman to drive, nor is it against the law in Saudi Arabia, period. Rather it is more of a social norm expected among the kingdom’s more conservative citizens. In fact, according to the Huffington Post’s Middle East correspondent, Alsharif wasn’t arrested because she drove, but because she started a campaign.
So when you get down to it, you’re not just honking to support Saudi women’s ability to drive, you are supporting their ability to create change.