(Photo: FAHD SHADEED/AFP/Getty Images)
Last month we told you about a campaign that has been encouraging women to drive en masse in Saudi Arabia on October 26 to protest the country's de-facto ban on female drivers. Yesterday, the movement to get women behind the wheel in the Arab nation got support from an unexpected corner when members of the country's Shura Council moved that the Transport Ministry should make preparations to allow women to drive, Reuters reports.
The Shura Council, also known as the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, is the closest thing the Kingdom has to a parliament. Although it can't pass laws, it makes recommendations to King Abdullah, who makes the ultimate decisions. King Abdullah first granted women a place on the council only in January of this year.
The proposal came up "apparently spontaneously," writes Reuters, when members were assessing the Transport Ministry's performance. "Men and women members were discussing the obstacle of women's transportation and how it's a burden for women working with families and the lack of other options like public transport," Hanan al-Ahmadi, one of the 30 female council members told Reuters. At that point, another female member, Latifa al-Shaalan, proposed that the council should recommend that women be allowed to drive.
While Saudi Arabia doesn't have an outright ban on female drivers, authorities don't issue licenses to women, and female drivers are sometimes arrested for other charges related to things like keeping the peace.
The council is expected to vote on the motion some time in the next few weeks.