“What these women are doing is brave”: Clinton Responds to Saudi Women Drivers

Hillary Clinton

You may have heard about women in Saudi Arabia organizing a plan to jointly defy the women’s driving ban by encouraging women with international driver’s licenses to get in their cars and drive on June 17.

Yesterday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the demands of these Saudi activists and spoke out in support of the right of Saudi women to drive.

“What these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right,” Clinton said. “The effort belongs to them. I am moved by it and I support them.”

As Bloomberg reports, this comment was made a day after her spokeswoman advocated “quiet diplomacy” as a more effective way to tackle the issue, and also just a few days after a coalition of Saudi activists released a letter that they had sent earlier in the month calling on Clinton to publicly express her support for their efforts.

In Saudi Arabia, women aren’t allowed to apply for a driver’s license, though some drive when they’re in desert areas away from cities. They also can’t travel or get an education without male approval, and are forbidden from mixing with unrelated men in public places.

I think it’s really awesome that Clinton is speaking out in support of the women, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it shows that she has her ear to the ground and is open to being responsive to the needs of grassroots activists and organizers, perhaps in other contexts as well.

Clinton is not the only high-ranking U.S. politician to express solidarity with the Saudi women who are protesting the driving ban, nor is she the first.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi showed her solidarity days ago with an adorable June 17th tweet:

“Beep beep and solidarity to the Saudi women & supporters challenging the driving ban!”

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to her work at Feministing, Lori is an Associate Director at Planned Parenthood Global. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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