Saudi Arabia has lifted its historic ban on women driving

Posted September 27, 2017

Overnight, it was announced that the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia would be lifted, effective June 2018.

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, also welcomed the Saudi decision, writing on Twitter that it represented "an important step in the right direction".

Sharif has written a book on the campaign, "Daring to Drive", which encompasses her struggle to drive on Saudi streets and also mentions how in the country ultra-conservative codes define lives. That includes Loujain Hathloul, who was arrested for driving in 2014 and again earlier this year; Tamador al-Yami, a Saudi blogger, opinion writer, and driving activist; and Souad al-Shammary, an activist known for "challenging Saudi taboos".

"Some said that it was inappropriate in Saudi culture for women to drive, or that male drivers would not know how to handle having women in cars next to them", explains the Times. They can not do any of these things without male guidance.

The struggle for greater women's rights in the kingdom has been a hard one, with activists facing arrest for defying the driving ban.

Women are generally not allowed to socialise with males outside their immediate families and can be thrown in prison for such an offence. A high-level ministerial committee will also be formed to study and implement potential necessary changes, including training police on interacting with women (unrelated men and women rarely have contact in the country).

The ruling is expected to go into effect by June of next year.

Saudi Arabia announced today that it will overturn a longstanding ban and allow women to drive. A few months later, King Salman ordered a review of laws that still make it hard for many women to work, travel, undergo medical procedures and go to university without the permission of a male relative or spouse.

Prince Mohammed is set to be the first millennial to occupy the throne, in a country where half the population is under 25, when he takes over from his 81-year-old father King Salman.

And with Tuesday's victory in the bag, proving the influence and accomplishments of Saudi women activists, the #IamMyOwnGuardian hashtag and movement is certainly one to continue watching.

Home to the birthplace of Islam and two of the religion's holiest sites-Mecca and Medina-Saudi Arabia operates as an ultraconservative, Sharia Law-based monarchy.

Although the government no longer requires a woman to have guardian's permission in order to work, many employers still demand the permission before hiring.

Conservative clerics have repeatedly said women who do physical exercise are immodest, even when they are not in public or seen by men.

Saudi women have been moving into roles previously reserved for men such as retail, air traffic control and emergency call centers. But there are many bans on women in Saudi that she can't do without permission.