Lady you can drive my car… but I’d rather you could drive your own

Celebrating and supporting the Women2Drive campaign in Saudi Arabia

I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I wasn’t allowed to drive. Although I didn’t start learning until I was 26, passing my test and getting my own car has played a major role in being able to be an independent woman.

My first car, a battered Ford Fiesta, cost me just £50. I only had her (she was called Bessie) for about six months but there are countless things I might not have done without her – including my journalism training.

I’ve had three different cars since then and have driven all over the UK, from Cornwall in the west of England, to Norwich in the east and as far north as Aberdeen in Scotland. Much of my driving is to visit friends or to see my favourite band, New Model Army, wherever they might be playing and I’ve made new friends who also travel to see them.

Being able to drive, having my own car and being able to go where I want when I want have shaped, influenced and probably revolutionised my life. It has allowed me to stay in touch with old friends and strengthen ties with newer ones; it’s enabled me to work, as I’ve often had to commute, and when I was a newspaper reporter I couldn’t have done my job without being able to drive to places to interview people or cover the events that made stories; it’s allowed me to escape boredom and loneliness by going places to take my mind off things or be with other people; I’ve been able to give lifts to friends and family and I’ve even helped people move house.

Without a car, the weekly shop (for a family of four) couldn’t be done in one go (I can’t imagine how long it would take or how many times I’d have to go back and forth) and I’d be dependent on the willingness of others to take me places – which would have a huge impact on both my work life and social life.

I expect that many of us take driving for granted, but be in no doubt, having your own car, which you can drive where and when you like, is an empowering thing for a woman in any country.

So, today, I’m thinking of all the women in Saudi Arabia who don’t have the freedom that I have and wishing good luck to those taking part in the Women2Drive campaign (see link below) which asks women to get behind the wheel and to post images and videos of themselves driving. This campaign of direct action will apparently continue until the ban on women driving is lifted. Let’s hope they don’t have to wait too long.

Further reading:

These are the Facebook pages of the campaign. Click on Like to show your support:

https://www.facebook.com/Women2Drive

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Women2drive-Manal-and-Bertha-Woman2drive-17-June-Saudi-Arabia/176962935691371

This is a link to BBC coverage of the driving protest:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13809684

And this is Amnesty International’s view of the issue:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/women-activists-prepare-defy-saudi-arabian-driving-ban-2011-06-16

 

Supporting #Women2Drive behind the wheel of my own car

Wherever you are, next time you get in to your car, spare a thought for Saudi women who would love the freedom to do the same.

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One comment

  1. Very thought provoking. I can’t imagine what my life wouldhave been like had I never been allowed to drive. I love my car so much and I love road trips! I have driven all over the United States, Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. The freedom I feel on the road gives me strength and courage. I can’t imagine living with out that sensation.

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