Posted by CODEPINK Staff
This afternoon members of CODEPINK and No Women No Play, a women’s rights organization advocating on behalf of Saudi women, gathered outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy to express their support for Saudi women. This Friday, June 17th, women throughout Saudi Arabia are taking a stand and will publicly drive throughout the country. Women in Saudi Arabia currently lack the right to drive, among other rights such as traveling without consent of a male guardian, or the right to vote.
Supporters drove around the embassy, honking their horns to display their support and friendly pedestrians gathered to learn more. Unfortunately, not everyone was so supportive. As people went in and out of the embassy, we questioned them on their view on the issue of women’s right to drive. Several humored us and said they would speak on our behalf, or gave a noncommittal shrug, but one woman in particular was taken aback by our demonstration. Though we were peacefully, and respectfully demonstrating on the sidewalk outside of the embassy, she spoke bluntly that she did not approve of such methods. She felt that women’s rights in Saudi Arabia should not be a concern to Americans and that it should not have an effect on Saudi-American relations. She felt that such demonstrations made Saudi Arabia look weak and were only detrimental to Saudi women’s efforts. It was a disheartening exchange, but not entirely surprising as the women worked in the embassy.
This is a critical time for Saudi women and they are taking a very important step towards expanded freedoms. While some may initially view the issue of driving as trivial, it is a small change that can make a world of difference to Saudi women. Through the ability to drive, Saudi women will gain a new freedom of movement that has previously been denied to them. They will no longer be entirely dependent on male guardians or hired drivers for transportation and with the support gained from this campaign women may be able to continue the fight for rights, such as the right to vote.
We ask you to continue to support the Saudi women and demonstrate your solidarity. If we missed you at the rally today, come to the embassy this Friday, June 17th beginning at noon. If you have a car please bring it, and if you are just passing by be sure to honk!
By: Mary Posman