Manama: A recommendation to allow Saudi women to drive will be submitted to the Shura Council within one month, a member of the Saudi advisory body has said.
“A high number of Shura members are interested in the issue, and 20 members have expressed their open support to it,” the member who was not named said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Monday.
Supporters are hoping the recommendation will this time be endorsed by the 150-member council.
In 2013, members Haya Al Maniie, Lateefa Al Shaalan and Muna Al Mushait submitted a motion to the Shura calling for allowing Saudi women to drive, within a religious framework.
However, the motion was turned down by the Council
“The new proposal calls for amending Article 36 of the Traffic Law on the conditions to acquire a driving licence. Under the new proposal, a new paragraph will be introduced, stipulating that “the driving licence is a right for men and women alike when conditions are met, the Shura member said.
“The proposal was accompanied by a note explaining it, based on a comprehensive study showing the importance of establishing this requirement according to a scientific vision that took into consideration the social, economic, cultural, legal, security and other dimensions. The legal basis for the proposal is consistent with the system of state governance.”
There is legal text banning women from driving in Saudi Arabia and the issue is related mainly to social traditions.
The de facto ban has been at times challenged by women who drove on roads and highways, alone or with relatives, but they were accused of “stirring up public opinion” and made to sign commitments not to drive again. The women were held accountable for not holding valid driving licences.
The debate over allowing women to drive has been omnipresent on social media in Saudi Arabia with both camps using religious, social, cultural and economic arguments.
The presence of thousands of males to drive mainly Saudi women and girls has been regularly used by supporters of allowing women to drive to highlight negative social and economic problems.
The Saudi Shura Council comprises 30 women.