Women in Saudi Arabia are driving freely for the first time

Women in Saudi Arabia are gearing up to drive legally for the first time ever this weekend.  As Holly Williams reports from Riyadh, women have waited and protested for nearly 30 years to win the right to take the wheel.

On Sunday Salma Youssef will finally be able to drive herself to work and drive her three children to school. Salma says, "It will change my life. It will change my family." She passed her test last week. A women’s university is currently where they’ve built a females-only driving school. 

In this conservative Islamic country, where women still need a male relative’s permission to travel overseas or get married, brave Saudi women fought for the right to drive by illegally taking the wheel and shaming their government.

Saudi comedians satirized the sexist attitudes behind the driving ban and poked fun at religious conservatives who said driving could damage a woman’s ovaries. But now, as the Saudi government finally allows women to hit the roads, it’s also begun arresting women’s rights campaigners who’ve demanded total equality, reportedly including Madeha Al Ajroush, who was interviewed in 2014.

Madeha says "The car for the Saudi woman has become the symbol of wanting our voices to be heard, and our needs to be heard."

We understand Al Ajroush has been released, but other women remain behind bars, and the message seems to be clear: The Saudi government is allowing some social progress, but will not tolerate those who criticize it.