This opinion piece by Maha Al-Shehri appeared in the Saudi Arabic daily Okaz and was translated and printed in the English daily Saudi Gazette on May 14, 2017. A link to the story can be found here, and the text is below.
By Maha Al-Shehri
SEVERAL incidents of women being saviors or heroes,
especially when their men developed sudden health problems while behind
the wheel, have been reported in the media.
Recently a female university student became the hero when
she rose to the occasion and took the wheel after the driver of her
university bus fainted. Ashwaq Al-Shamri of Hail University took the bus
and the driver to safety. The news of the incident was widely
circulated on social media.
The female student was able to avert an accident and save
the bus driver by driving him to hospital because she had learned
driving despite the ban on women driving existing in the country.
There is no legal basis for preventing women from driving
but the Kingdom has so far failed to allow its female citizens to
exercise this legitimate right.
I believe that every woman should learn driving as a skill
even if she does not own a vehicle or may not obtain a driving license
in the near future. We have seen men learning cooking even though they
do not cook on a daily basis.
The mastering of a skill will enable us to use it whenever a
need arises. It will help us deal with various life situations boldly
It is high time that we overcome the mentality that women
are incapable and inferior beings. We have limited women’s roles
treating them as weak despite their capabilities, aptitude and
People have to recognize that women are no less than men in terms of
qualifications and efficiency. Women are partners of men in every walk
Even while considering women as mentors of new generations
and protectors of families, some of us wrongly believe that they are
incompetent in most matters, which they think are reserved for men.
In a nutshell, we should teach our women how to drive for
the sake of themselves and others. A situation may arise at any point of
our life where we will not find anyone except women as saviors as has
occurred in the case of the Hail bus driver.