Saudi Women’s Right to Drive
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2011
Saudi Women Call on Sec. Hillary Clinton to Publicly Support Their Right to Drive
Saudi women’s rights activists inspired by the Arab Spring call on Secretary of State Clinton to make a public statement supporting Saudi women’s right to drive
WASHINGTON, DC – More than 10,000 people from all 50 US states have endorsed a an open letter by a coalition of leading Saudi Arabian women’s rights activists calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to issue a public statement supporting their right to drive.
The initiative follows the success of a series of campaigns by the women’s coalition to free and acquit Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi mother dubbed the ‘Saudi Rosa Parks’ after she was arrested for driving her car. Campaigns led by Saudi women on Manal’s behalf were joined by more than 60,000 people in 156 countries through Change.org, the world’s fastest growing advocacy platform.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive a car or even ride a bicycle. With no public transportation system, getting to work, school and medical appointments is complicated, expensive and dangerous for Saudi women. The dependence of Saudi women on men for transportation is repeatedly exploited by abusive fathers, brothers, husbands and hired drivers, and earlier this week a Saudi woman reported she had been raped at gunpoint by her hired driver.
“We were encouraged to see media reports that US diplomats have quietly pressured the Saudi government to give women the right to drive,” reads the open letter from leading Saudi women’s rights activists to Secretary Clinton. “But given the recent arrests of women trying to drive, now is the time for the US to show its muscle and make that pressure public… We believe that you making a public statement of support for Saudi Arabia opening the country’s roads to women would be a game changing moment.”
“Secretary Clinton, you are a friend. Indeed, some of us have met you personally during your decades-long journey as a champion of women’s rights all over the world,” the letter continues. “Now, as we build the largest Saudi women’s protest movement in decades, we need your help.”
Saudi women plan to take the streets en masse on June 17.
Change.org said that Saudi Women for Driving, the consortium of Saudi women’s rights activists, has seen unprecedented success in their online campaigns. www.Change.org