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June 17, 2012

Join Aishah Schwartz in supporting the right of women in Saudi Arabia to drive #Women2Drive, #W2Drive

My Right to Dignity Petition - Women2Drive Saudi Arabia

My Right to Dignity has published an open petition addressed to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on the occasion of one year since the beginning of the June 17th women driving movement. The petition renews the request to lift the ban disallowing the right of women in the Kingdom to drive. The goal of the petition is to secure 10,000 signatures. Arabic and English translated versions of the petition included. Please sign the petition and share, like, etc., insha’Allah.

To his majesty, the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, may God save and bless him.

Peace and God’s mercy and blessing be upon you,

We address your majesty with thankfulness and gratitude for the utmost care that you have granted to Saudi women issues and the progressive steps that you have taken to involve women in the national development projects. These steps that you summarized in your historical speech on September 25th 2011 when you said, “We will not approve the marginalization of women.” This was followed by the two decrees concerning women membership on the Shura Council and women participation in the municipal elections.

With the rise in the number of Saudi women granted the King Abdullah international scholarship to 27,500 recipients, many of them have returned hopeful to take part in building this nation side-by-side with their brothers. Due to your advocacy towards opening more fields to women and the implementation of your wise decree this past January to allow women to work in retail, more than 300,000 job opportunities for women have been created and billions of our immigrating riyals have been nationalized.

Thus it is our hope that you take into consideration our campaign I Will Drive My Own Car to encourage women who have obtained driving licenses from neighboring countries to forgo their male drivers and start driving themselves when they need to. This encouragement is nothing more than the practice of a right ensured to us by all religions and national and international law. A right that has been denied us by some customs and traditions that are not of God. We also hope that you advocate the opening of women driving schools and the issuance of driving licenses to women who qualify.

This campaign does not seek to disrupt the government or to violate any national laws or regulations. Here it is important to point out that there is no explicit law banning women from driving. We are not in cooperation with any foreign organizations or bodies nor do we represent a political party or opposition. We do not intend to start a public protest. We merely request that any woman who needs to go about her daily business and does not have a man to help her be allowed to help herself. We want this right to be an option for those who want or need to. As King Faisal (God rest his soul) historically said when he decreed girls’ education, “No one will be forced nor will anyone be turned away.”

Our Precious King, we trust in your majesty and our guardians but we are trying as adult capable women to do everything in our power for the betterment of our families and society.  We seek to facilitate the affairs of our lives and the lives of our families while maintaining respect and loyalty to the values of our gracious nation and to the principles of our faith. We are optimistic that our campaign will succeed, as did other campaigns and projects such as ARAMCO, KAUST and women in rural areas.

Our initiative comes as an inevitable result of the failure of ongoing initiatives that began more than thirty years and have included directly appealing to officials, writing in the media, and sending petitions and demands to the members of the Shura Council. These have all had no real results on the ground. Our hope is now hanging on the generosity of your response and support for this campaign. We hope that your majesty will instruct all those who have in their capacity to support us to do so, such as the regional princes, the police and the Commission for Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue. We hope that you will command them to enable women who have valid licenses to drive their own cars when running their basic daily errands and thus lift the financial and social burden on some families that has lasted far too long.

We hope that your majesty would hasten the enactment of laws and regulations that criminalize and punish those that harm or harass women drivers. In this the government could gain from the experience of the other GCC countries. We also hope that your majesty will hasten the establishment of driving schools and the issuance of licenses for women. Until then, we raise to your royal court a number of urgent demands from those who have been gravely affected by the women-driving ban. These demands are that these families and women be compensated by waiving the Saudi entrance visa fee for migrant drivers and be granted by the government a monthly stipend equaling the amount it takes to employ, board and feed a driver. Another demand is that the salary transportation allowance be increased for women to three times what men are paid. The final demand is that government ministries and institutions and private employers be required to provide their female employees the option of safe institutional transportation.

We are still in great anticipation and hope that public transportation projects will see the light of day soon.

Your majesty is well aware that the simple yet essentially important request to allow women to drive is practiced easily by all women in the world. Hence lifting the driving ban should not be difficult here in the country of security and safety and under your wise leadership. With sincere efforts we are confident that our wise leadership will realize the ban lift in our compassionate and gracious nation for the benefit of our sons and daughters.

We pray that your majesty will remain our pride, strength, and empowerment and that God grant you and the nation perseverance and blessedness.

Date of petition 20 Rajab 1433, corresponding to June 10, 2012


إلى مقام خادم الحرمين الشريفين، الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز آل سعود حفظه الله ورعاهـ

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله و بركاته،، 

نتوجه لمقامكم السامي بآيات الشكر والعرفان لما أوليتموه من جزيل الإهتمام
بشأن المرأة السعودية، والخطوات الرائدة التي أتخذتموها في سبيل إشراكها في
مشروع التنمية الوطنية التي أوجزتها كلمتكم التاريخية في يوم ٢٥ سبتمبر
٢٠١١ حين قلتم: "لن نرضى بتهميش المرأة"، والتي تلاها صدور القرارين
التاريخيين حول عضوية المرأة في مجلس الشورى ومشاركتها في الانتخابات
للمجالس البلدية.
ومع ارتفاع عدد السعوديات الدارسات في الخارج في برنامج الملك عبدالله للإبتعاث ليصل إلى ٢٧٥٠٠ مبتعثة (المصدر أخبار ٢٤ بتاريخ ٤ مارس ٢٠١٢
)، وعودة الكثير منهن يحدوهن الأمل في المساهمة في بناء الوطن مع أشقائهن
الرجال. ومع التوجه لفتح المزيد من المجالات أمام المرأة في سوق العمل
كقراركم الحكيم بتأنيث المحلات التجارية في شهر يونيو الماضي الذي خلق أكثر
من ٣٠٠ ألف وظيفة ووطن المليارات من الريالات المهاجرة (المصدر صحيفة الرياض بتاريخ ٤ ديسمبر ٢٠١١).
ومع تزايد عدد النساء السعوديات المتقدمات لطلب اصدار رخص قيادة من الدول
الخليجية المجاورة الذي وصل لخمسة آلاف سعودية من مدرسة قيادة واحدة في
البحرين في عام واحد (المصدر أخبار ٢٤ بتاريخ ١ يونيو ٢٠١٢).
وعلى ذلك فإننا نأمل أن تؤخذ بعين الاعتبار مبادرتنا (سأقود سيارتي بنفسي) وذلك لتشجيع النساء الحاصلات على رخص قيادة من دول مجاورة من الاستغناء عن السائق، والبدء بالقيادة عند الضرورة. وتشجيعنا هذا ماهو إلا ممارسة لحق كفلته جميع الشرائع والأنظمة المحلية والعالمية ونزعته منا أعراف وتقاليد البعض  التي ما أنزل الله بها من سلطان، والتوجيه بالتعجيل لإنشاء مدارس القيادة النسائية والتأكيد بالسماح باستخراج رخص القيادة للنساء.

ونحن في مبادرتنا هذه لا نسعى لإزعاج السلطات أو مخالفة الأنظمة والقوانين والتي لا تمنع بدورها قيادة المرأة، أوالتعاون مع جهات أجنبية، ولا نمثل حزباً معيناً أو معارضة ولا نسعى لإقامة أي نوع من المظاهرات، إنما فقط نريد ممن تود قضاء حوائجها اليوميه ولاتجد من يعينها أن تفعله بنفسها. وهذا الحق إنما هو اختياري لمن أرادت أو أحتاجت، كما كان قرار الملك فيصل طيب الله ثراه حين أقر بتعليم البنات حيث قال كلمته المأثورة: "لايجبر عليها من أبى ولا يرد عنها من أتاها".
إننا يامليكنا الغالي نثق في ولاة أمرنا وفي مقامكم السامي، ولكننا نحاول فقط أن نقود زمام المبادرة كنساء راشدات قادرات على فعل كل ماله خير وصلاح للأسرة والمجتمع، من تيسير لشؤون حياتهن و حياة أسرهن بكل احترام لقيم وطنهن الكريم و ثوابته الشرعية. متفائلين من نجاح هذه التجربة كما نجحت في تجارب مثل أرامكو السعودية، وجامعة الملك عبدالله للعلوم والتقنية، والنساء في البادية.
تأتي مبادرتنا هذه كنتيجة حتمية لفشل المطالبات المستمرة التي بدأت منذ أكثر من ثلاثين عاماً عبر المخاطبة المباشرة مع المسؤولين و الكتابة الإعلامية و رفع المعاريض و المطالب لأعضاء مجلس الشورى بلا نتيجة حقيقية على أرض الواقع، و أملنا الآن معلّق على كرم استجابتكم و دعمكم لهذه المبادرة بالإيعاز لمن يخصه الأمر من رجال الشرطة و المرور و أمراء المناطق وهيئة الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر بتمكين القادرات منا ممن يمتلكون رخصا ً سارية المفعول من استخدام مركباتهن لقضاء حوائجهن اليومية الأساسية ورفع الأعباء المالية والاجتماعية عن كاهل بعض الأسر الذي استمر طويلاً.
ونرجو من مقامكم السامي الإسراع بسن الأنظمة الخاصة بالقيادة النسائية وبتجريم وعقاب من يتعرض للنساء بالإيذاء أو التحرش، بدء ً من حيث ما انتهى به الآخرون في دول الخليج الشقيقة، وتعجيل فتح مدارس تعليم القيادة النسائية لمنح النساء رخص القيادة السعودية. وحتى يتم هذا الأمر نرفع لمقامكم الكريم مجموعة من المطالبات العاجلة من المتضررين من المنع القائم ويشمل ذلك: تعويض الأسر والنساء المتضررات من المنع  بإلغاء المبلغ المدفوع لاستخراج فيزة السائق، و صرف مبلغ شهري يوازي ما ينفق على أجرة السائق وسكنه وأكله، وزيادة بدل المواصلات للنساء العاملات ثلاثة أضعاف بدل المواصلات للرجل بحيث لايقل عن ١٥٠٠ ريال، وإجبار الوزارات والمؤسسات الحكومية وأصحاب العمل بتوفير النقل المؤسساتي الآمن للموظفات والعاملات السعوديات.
كما مازلنا نأمل أن ترى مشاريع النقل العام الآمن والاقتصادي النور قريباً. لا يخفى عليكم يا مليكنا أن هذا المطلب البسيط في ظاهره المهم في جوهره و الذي تمارسه كل النساء في العالم بكل أريحية؛ لن يكون عسيراً هنا في بلد الأمن والآمان و في ظل قيادتكم الحكيمة، وبتكاتف الجهود المخلصة كلنا ثقه أن قيادتنا الحكيمة ستحققه لابناء وبنات هذا الوطن الكريم المعطاء.
دمتم لنا ذخراً و عزة و تمكيناً، و نسأل الله لنا ولكم وللوطن التوفيق و السداد.

تاريخ نشر العريضة ٢٠ رجب ١٤٣٣ هـ الموافق ١٠ يونيو ٢٠١٢


Manal Al Sharif


Sign the Petition
My Right to Dignity Petition - Women2Drive Saudi Arabia

Petition text in English AND Arabic

Petition text translated to English - Saudiwoman's Weblog

Women2Drive campaign image files for use as FB profile photos and Timeline covers


Make a sign that says, "I support the right of women to drive in Saudi Arabia" and post a photo of yourself or a group holding it.
Example and Letter here:


Support @Women2Drive on Facebook Page (17,695 Likes)


Support Women2Drive - 17 June on Facebook (7,626 Likes)


Create a Honk for Saudi Women video and upload it to Youtube
Upload your video and send the link to: honkforsaudiwomen AT

Follow Women2Drive on Twitter @Women2Drive (Followers 18,639)!/women2drive


Twibbon your FB profile photo with a Women2Drive badge


Additonal information - My Right to Dignity (Arabic)


The video that launched the Women2Drive campaign featuring Manal Al Sharif (19 MAY 12) (Viewed Over 850,000 times)

"On Thursday May 19, I drove my car in public in Khober, and I took this video to proof that there was no harassments or any problem, I drove in Khober main streets, 10s of cars around me, and non- talked to me. I passed by the police station twice, and no one stopped me. I hope this video as the 1st video to go in public for a woman driving in Saudi, inspired the rest of Saudi women to go ahead and just do it!"

The campaign, which spread through Facebook and Twitter, was the largest mass action since November 1990, when 47 Saudi women were arrested and punished after demonstrating in cars.


Saudi Arabian women risk arrest as they defy ban on driving (17 JUN 12)

Women in Saudi Arabia have been arrested and jailed for defying a ban on driving. Now they want men to join them in the passenger seat as they get behind the wheel.


Saudi women urged to flout driving ban - (17 JUN 12)

Those with licenses from abroad told to drive on anniversary and document their acts.


The woman behind the campaign to allow Saudi women to drive - Manal may also lose custody of her son (17 JUN 12)

EXCERPT: One year ago today around 40 women in Saudi Arabia drove their cars, daring to claim their right and breaking the ban. Today, the Right to Dignity Campaign, known as “Women2Drive”, will present a petition to the King to change this draconian prohibition. It is signed by at least 760 people.

When she asked for permission to travel to Oslo last month to participate in the Oslo Freedom Forum, she was refused, and in consequence, she resigned. Manal closed her Oslo speech with the following line: “the rain starts with a single drop.”

On May 10 the Oslo Freedom Forum published Manal’s speech on YouTube. Since then, the video has been viewed more than 315,000 times, mostly from viewers inside the Arab peninsula.

Saudi cleric Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Tarifi recently issued a fatwa declaring Manal a “hypocrite” — thereby questioning her status as a Muslim and placing her under further risk.

Manal lost her job, the mortgage on her house, her job prospects for the future, and, if she chooses to leave Saudi Arabia to find work, she may also lose custody of her six -year-old son.

In Saudi Arabia there is no public transportation. On average, Saudi women pay upwards of one-third of their salaries to drivers. There are more than one million private drivers.

VIDEO: Saudi women's rights advocate Manal al-Sharif accepts the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum


One year on, Saudi Arabian women still driving their way to greater freedom (15 JUN 12)


Women petition Saudi king for right to drive - Give us the right to drive, women urge Saudi king (14 JUN 12)

“We only want to enjoy the right to drive like all women over the world,” said the petition signed by Manal Al Sherif, the icon of an Internet campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy the driving ban.

Sheima Jastaniah, who was pardoned by the king after being sentenced to 10 lashes for breaking the driving ban last September, has also signed the petition.


Plea to Saudi King Abdullah: Let us Drive (14 JUN 12) - Mich Cafe Blog

The first thing I did on my 18th birthday was register for driving lessons. I got my driving license a month later -- and it was a milestone. I did it not as a female, but as a person. It was the natural thing to do.


Saudi women ask King Abdullah to lift female driving ban (13 JUN 12)


Saudi Arabia, My Changing Home (8 JUN 12)

EXCERPT: Take the case of Manal al-Sharif, who has become the face of an underground women’s rights movement here she posted an online video of herself driving. Though she took pains in the video to proclaim her loyalty to king and country, her assurances were to no avail. Conservative religious leaders condemned her as promiscuous and immoral; her family was harassed, and she was jailed for nine days.

Last month, she was criticized for accepting the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent in Oslo. Detractors argued that her speech hurt her country’s image.

Women’s Day: Taking a stand with women in the Middle East (6 MAR 12)

Last year, women activists re-launched the campaign to protest against the ban called “Women2Drive”, which used social media to urge women with international driver’s licenses to take to the roads from 17 June 2011 onwards.


Saudis arrest YouTube activist challenging ban on women drivers (22 MAY 11)

More than 500,000 clicks on video of woman held by police who filmed herself behind the wheel.


Manal al-Sharif - 2012 Havel Prize Acceptance Speech - Saudi women's rights advocate Manal al-Sharif accepts the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum (30 MAY 12)


A member of the highest religious council, Shiekh Qays Al Mubarak, surprisingly is being quite outspoken in this Arabic piece in the call for lifting the ban on women driving. (26 JUN 11)


Saudi women driving movement (29 JUN 11)

Every accusation imaginable has been thrown at Saudi women who spoke up for their right to drive their own cars. Sheikhs and ultra conservatives have created this intricate conspiracy theory including the notion that somehow women driving cars will lead to the fall of Islam.


An Arabic statement released by Shiekh Abdullah Al Mutlaq, a member of the highest religious council in Saudi Arabia where he states that women driving is allowed in Islam however he likens it to allowing weapon trade which is also allowed in Islam but would have dangerous consequences on the security of the country and safety of society. (29 JUN 11) (Arabic)


Saudi woman driver freed after agreeing to quit campaign - Manal al-Sharif, jailed after posting a YouTube video of herself driving, leaves Women2Drive movement (31 JUN 11)

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