King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has issued a decree that will lift the current ban on women driving. Until today, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world that legally prohibited women from driving. (According to FutureScopes, there are some cultures in other countries that means women driving are a rarity). This royal decree was announced today by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The lift on the driving ban will be in full effect by June 2018. Saudi women will be able to apply for driver's licenses at that time.

Decades of oppression

Saudi Arabian women have been fighting for the right to drive since the early 1990's. Many women have been arrested for defying the ban. However, that did not stop them from protesting this unfair law.

Aziza Alyousef is one of the many women who took part in the campaign against the ban. She filmed herself driving in two videos. In a phone interview with Bloomberg, Alyousef thanked all of the women who had participated over the last several decades in the campaign. She also said that she will apply for her license to drive as soon as possible.

Religious reasons

Many clerics and Saudi officials have given multiple reasons over the years as to why women should not be allowed to drive.

Some cited Islamic rules that women were not permitted to be in the company of unrelated men. Others said that male drivers would be incapable of controlling themselves with female drivers next to them on the roads.

Some clerics even went as far as to say that driving would cause irreversible damage to women's ovaries. Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan said that western women only have an average of one or two children for this very reason.

His claims have no merit in the medical field and have been dismissed by many Saudi women who are seeking out their right to drive.

Sheikh Saad Al-Hijri was recently quoted as saying that women have half a brain, by the BBC. He went on to say that when women are shopping, "They end up with a quarter." This cleric is the head of fatwas in Assir and is responsible for releasing legal opinions based on religious views.

Since his discriminatory comments last week, Hijiri has been banned from religious activities such as leading the prayer and preaching.

A step in the right direction

While the lift on the current driving ban in Saudi Arabia is a step in the right direction, it appears that the country is moving in slow motion. Women have been asking for their right to drive for almost 30 years, and their requests are just now being answered.

Officials said that the reason the decree will take almost a year before it comes into effect is because of police officers. The government will be spending the next several months training their officers on how to interact with women.