Women’s March Ignores Saudi Arabia’s Long-Awaited Step For Women’s Rights

Women’s March Ignores Saudi Arabia’s Long-Awaited Step For Women’s Rights

That Saudi Arabia will let women drive cars next year is an incredibly big deal for women’s rights. So why hasn’t the Women’s March praised this big step yet?

King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia finally decided to end one of the world’s most oppressive policies against women, issuing a decree on Tuesday allowing women to drive.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the decree won’t go into effect until June of next year, “after a government committee will study how to begin allowing women onto the roads driving their own vehicles.” (Apparently the government is also new to drivers’ licenses and car keys.)

As sarcastic as I’m tempted to be, this is an incredibly big deal for anyone who cares about women’s rights. So naturally, the Women’s March (thus far) has been silent, despite pretending to care about women’s equality so passionately for the past year.

To be clear, the Women’s March hasn’t been completely silent since Saudi women were granted the right to drive. Since news broke of the decree, the Women’s March found time to tweet about its Women’s Conventionresisting President TrumpPuerto Rico, and Twitter changing its character limits. But a historically oppressive state finally reversing one of its most discriminatory policies against women? Not worth 140 characters, apparently.

This Only Vindicates Our Choice Not to Join You

When women like me chose not to participate in the Women’s March in January, time and time again we were belittled. If we felt we didn’t “need this march,” they put it, it’s because we “have privilege,” and are “blind to it.” By not marching, they said, we were being “appallingly, devastatingly selfish.”

So in light of the movement’s silence on the announcement from Saudi Arabia, I have a message to those who scolded me. I didn’t refuse to march because I think women are equal, I refused to march because I know women are not equal.

I didn’t refuse to march because “I didn’t need to,” I didn’t march because the movement cherry-picked which women it wanted to represent. (Heaven forbid you were against abortion, standing for every woman’s right to be born—women who think this weren’t invited.) I didn’t fall for their cheap version of feminism then and I’m certainly not falling for it now.

Women’s Rights Should Be Bigger than This

I’m aware that in America, being a woman isn’t always easy. But I’m also aware that in America, I have the right to wake up, choose what I wear, drive to work, and make a living. I’m also aware that in America, I have the right to choose who I marry with my body parts still intact. Millions of women in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, still lack these basic rights.

To those who chided me for being privileged, there’s some truth to that. I couldn’t be any luckier to be born in an age and in a country where I don’t have to worry about my basic rights. But since I’m aware that not all women are so lucky, excuse me for refusing to spend my time complaining about my own inequalities. That would be devastatingly selfish, now wouldn’t it?

Instead of focusing on myself, I choose to complain about the inequalities my fellow sisters still face on a widespread, international scale. I also choose to celebrate the moments when they earn the right to take the steering wheel, and drive to a place where we can all safely complain about the smaller stuff.

Since the organization that claims to care so much about women’s rights isn’t saying it, allow me, in 140 characters or less: “Congratulations to the women of Saudi Arabia for this great achievement. You deserve it, and I wish you many more.”

Kelsey Harkness is a senior news producer and reporter for The Daily Signal in Washington DC, a visiting fellow at Independent Women's Forum, the 2017 Tony Blankley Chair at The Steamboat Institute, and the Wednesday editor of BRIGHT, a weekly newsletter for women. She previously worked at Fox News and attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Her views do not represent The Heritage Foundation, her employer.
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