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A Reason to Celebrate More Driving

On these pages we usually tout the developed world's decline in driving and car ownership. But in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive, the automobile serves as a vehicle for improving human rights.
October 26, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"On Saturday, a small number of women — even the main activists were not sure how many — insisted on violating one of the most stubborn social codes in staunchly conservative Saudi society, getting into their cars and driving," reports Ben Hubbard. "The public call for women nationwide to drive on Saturday was the latest push in a decades-old effort by a small group of activists to exercise what they see as a fundamental human right. Saudi Arabia, a hereditary monarchy, is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive."

"Of all the rights denied to Saudi women, the right to drive might not be the most socially or economically important — although the ability to work in Saudi Arabia, where public transit is notoriously poor, is related to the ability to get to one's job," writes the Los Angeles Times editorial board. "But there is potent symbolism in women steering their own drive toward a possibly less restrictive future."

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Published on Saturday, October 26, 2013 in The New York Times
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