Since 1990 when women was banned from driving, Saudi Arabia officially announced on Tuesday that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the oppression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom.
The change, which will take effect in June 2018, was announced in a royal decree read live on state television and in a simultaneous media event in Washington
State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said the US “would certainly welcome that” news, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on his official Twitter it was “an important step in the right direction.”
I welcome Saudi Arabia's decision to lift the ban on women drivers. An important step in the right direction.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 27, 2017
Manal al-Sharif, one of the women behind the Women2Drive campaign, celebrated the victory by posting a photo on Twitter of herself behind the wheel of a car.
Sharif, who now lives in Australia, was jailed in Saudi Arabia 2011 after posting a video on YouTube of herself, wearing a black headscarf and sunglasses, driving a car.
The act provoked death threats and spurred her to start the campaign.
In another tweet the campaigner commented, “Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.”