We’ve just learned that the Saudi Ministry of the Interior has issued a threatening warning to women planning to drive on Saturday despite the Kingdom’s de facto ban on women driving. The Ministry compared women driving openly in the streets to “disturbing the public peace and opening venues to sedition” and stated, that the women would be “severely punished.”

We must take action. Tell the Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel A. Al-Jubeir, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and King Abdullah bin Abdul Al Saud how outrageous we believe these threats are against Saudi women who courageously seek basic human rights to mobility and freedom.

A Saudi Woman Holds Up a Sign Saying, "Cars Want to be Driven by Saudi Women." Image Credit: Flickr

via Flickr

Some women throughout Saudi Arabia planned to take to the roads in an ongoing campaign despite the ban – which unjustifiably limits women’s mobility and constrains them economically, especially in a country with no mass transit. Their day of action had gained popular support in the country where, until this week, there was no explicit law or decree prohibiting women from driving – although women could not receive drivers’ licenses.

But, this week, the government issued a decree making it illegal for women to drive, and announced that “all violations will be dealt with.”

This gender apartheid must end. We must stand with our sisters in solidarity. The right to mobility is a basic human right acknowledged by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Show Saudi women and the people of the world our strong support for their fight for freedom and equality. Take action now. 

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Eleanor Smeal

Eleanor Smeal

As Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Eleanor Smeal has led efforts for the economic, political, and social equality and empowerment of women worldwide for over three decades.