In September 2017, the world celebrated as King Salman of Saudi Arabia finally issued a landmark decree giving women the right to drive, so we thought we’d take a look at what that actually means and what has changed.
A victory for female empowerment, it has also led to economic benefits, helping more women to get jobs and boosting its popularity among more conservative members of Saudi society!
How does it affect female employment?
There will be a huge knock on effect on a range of different industries.
More women will be able to find employment, as they have greater freedom of movement, which will significantly increase household income.
Popular taxi services Uber and Careem have already announced their intention to open up specific jobs for female drivers, also helping female passengers feel more comfortable.
Saudi’s General Traffic Department has made a move to hire female officials to attend to female drivers involved in road accidents, providing a similar boost!
There have been predictions that road safety will improve across the nation, as women start to share driving responsibility with male family members.
Advertising companies quick to cash in
Lots of car manufacturers are rushing to launch advertising campaigns targeting the new female market.
Though visually striking, there has been criticism of such images for relying on stereotypes and failing to address the subtleties of the new market.
Saudi writer Maha Akeel labelled adverts such as Ford’s image of a woman’s eyes in a rear view mirror as “funny but cheesy”, advising manufacturers that they would be “surprised to hear that Saudi women already know a lot about cars and driving!”
— Ford Middle East (@FordMiddleEast) September 27, 2017
According to recent polls, over 40% of women are already in possession of a license obtained outside Saudi Arabia.
Coca Cola’s new video ad features a father teaching his daughter how to drive. Enthusiastically praised by some, others have criticised the brand’s move to capitalise on the female struggle.
With the decree not coming into effect til next June, we’ll have to wait and see what else they come up with!
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Last modified: 9th November 2017