To the women of Saudi Arabia, who have fought for the right to drive and on June 24 finally joined their sisters behind the wheel, we say Mabrook! This achievement is a moment to celebrate the efforts of local activists who have challenged the policies of the most gender-segregated society in the world.
But just after the announcement was made last month, 17 activists, including some of the most prominent women who had campaigned for the right to drive, were arrested. In a vicious smear campaign, they were accused of being traitors and undermining the "security and stability" of Saudi Arabia. Eight of those detained have since been freed, but nine remain behind bars and could face up to 20 years in prison. This sent a clear signal to all Saudis that only the royal family can bestow freedoms—and can take them away. Send a message to the Saudi Embassy to release the activists and end the oppressive system of male guardianship! We will deliver your message to the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC. You can also email the Saudi Embassy directly at [email protected].
We cannot let this win for women be claimed by the so-called “reformer” crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. This victory is a result of the decades of dedication and advocacy led by Saudi women. The ability to drive gives some much-deserved freedom, such as being able to drive themselves to work, but Saudi activists continue to challenge a much larger obstacle: the kingdom’s guardianship system. Under this system, a woman, no matter her age, is treated as a minor and must live under the supervision of her father, husband, uncle, or some other male relative—even her son!
While our government continues to support the repressive and corrupt Saudi royalty, we call for all activists who have been arrested to be released. And we stand in solidarity with Saudi women fighting for their rights.
Show your support by demanding the release of the political prisoners and an end to the guardianship system. Don't forget to share this message on Facebook and Twitter!
For the recognition of women’s human rights in Saudi Arabia and throughout the world,
Brienne, Medea, and the entire CODEPINK Team