[Saudi Arabia] Manal al Sharif’s Liberating Ride

Sarah J. Robbins – Daily Beast – Friday, 21 March 2014

Manal al Sharif in the driver's seat
On her way to Women in the World’s Los Angeles event, the Saudi activist spearheading the fight to overthrow her country’s ban on women driving talked to WITW about liberation, hateful criticism, and the power of social media.Image: Marwan Naamani/AFP via Getty

Three years ago, in the midst of the explosive Arab Spring, Manal al Sharif took the wheel of her Cadillac SUV, looked into her friend’s iPhone camera and said, as she made a left-hand turn, “We want change in this country.” For defying Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving—just one example of the limitations set forth by culture and law in a place where women need a man’s permission to get a passport, attend school, or even receive medical treatment—al Sharif was imprisoned for nine days. But the trail she blazed stayed open and led to a Women2Drive movement that has inspired dozens of women to follow her lead as well as a much larger discussion about women’s rights.

We spoke with al Sharif this week as she prepared to travel from her adopted home of Dubai to attend Friday’s Women in the World talk in Los Angeles.

Women in the World: What was the experience of driving like for you, and how has it changed, as the Women2Drive movement has gotten underway? . . .

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