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Women Now Allowed To Drive In Saudi Arabia--Here Are Things They Still Can't Do

One of the biggest criticisms of Saudi Arabia is the country's treatment of women and disparity of rights between them and men.

For the longest time, women in the country weren't allowed to drive, but after years of protests and constantly addressing the issue, women are finally allowed behind the wheel.

A royal decree was recently made, broadcast live on television, stating that the law will be put into action in June of 2018. As of now, a committee has been formed to present logistics and a plan of action on how to best roll out the revolutionary ruling.

People reacted positively to the news, and with memes too, obviously.

And although Saudi Arabian women will be allowed to apply for their own drivers licenses, because of "male guardian" laws, women are still very much restricted in what they can and can't do in their day to day lives. There's a reason the nation ranks at 141 out of 144 when it comes to gender equality (Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are the only countries that ranked lower).

Saudi Arabian women can vote, they can vote and take part in consultative councils, they can attend college, and they can compete in the Olympic games.

But compared to what women in the country still can't do, the above are mere drops of water in the proverbial bucket o' progress. Women in the country cannot file for divorce, hold a job, undergo elective surgery, have a separate bank account, or get a job unless their male guardian allows them do so.

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They also can't socialize or work with men. Barring banks and hospitals and medical schools, women who work in the same businesses as men must be forced to work in their respective areas behind "separation walls," which were mandated back in 2013.

Women are also still required to wear the black abaya when in public, and aren't allowed to conduct business without first being sponsored by a male. In the event of a divorce, women aren't allowed to retain custody of their sons over the age of 7 and over the age of 9 for girls. Identification cards and passports are a no-no unless a male guardian grants her permission to get one, and Saudi women in most restaurants must sit in the "family section" and usually have to enter via a side entrance.

As far as getting a fair shake in court, Saudi women also have it twice as hard as men, as it takes two women's testimonies to legally equal one of a man's. It also doesn't help that they hold the same legal status as a minor in the country, meaning making decisions for their own lives in the justice system is extremely difficult, if not impossible. The same goes for their inheritances, which, due to how Saudi Arabia chooses to interpret traditional Sharia rulings, means that they get half of what their brothers receive.

Giving women the right to drive is a huge step forward for the country, but until make guardianship laws are abolished, Saudi women still have a long ways to go in terms of enjoying a greater degree of equality. (h/t cnn)

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