Geneva - The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor welcomes Saudi Arabia's decision to allow Saudi women to obtain driving licenses, just like men, and calls on the Kingdom to take more positive steps in this direction.
“Saudi Arabia's allowing women to drive is a step forward to improve women's rights and enhance gender equality in the country,” says Sandra Owen, a Euro-Med Monitor spokeswoman.
“Saudi Arabia should take further measures to improve the level of human rights and enable women to fully realize their rights by stopping discriminatory laws and regulations, especially those which prevent women from exercising their right to social and political participation,” Owen added.
Owen referred to the so-called guardianship system and laws which give men power over their female relatives; it is a source of legislation for many violations of women's rights in the Kingdom.
On 25 April 2017, Saudi Arabia joined one of the 45 members of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Saudi Arabia will work for four years to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.
In an oral statement to the Human Rights Council mid-September, the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor Human Rights Monitor urged Saudi Arabia to complete its important changes it started 10 years ago to empower women, hailing the Kingdom's efforts to facilitate women's access to government services, to increase their access to the labor market, and to address violence against them.
Saudi Arabia has adopted a policy of banning women from driving since 1990, depriving them of their right to freedom of movement, restricting women's mobility within the country.
Saudi Arabia arrested three women who tried to drive within or cross the Kingdom territories. They were released after several months of detention. The last was the arrest of a Saudi woman on September 3, 2015 who was released after her car was confiscated.
The Euro-Med Monitor calls on the Saudi government to build on these steps, and substantially expand changes and reforms, and to reconsider the Kingdom's reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Saudi Arabia ratified in 2000.