An Open Letter To the Women Behind the ‘October 26 Driving’ campaign. Let’s Try Something Different!
We all agree that women must drive. It is a basic right we need, to be able to survive. Every campaign has been the same and every time the people who support it are expecting what? Is it a campaign to show how important it is that women drive or to show how against women driving people are?
This is a method tried and failed… and maybe you’re going about it the wrong way! When I heard there was a petition circling asking for the right for women to drive I was on board and ready to sign. When I saw the people supporting it I backed off. The first thing I found when looking into the petition was the Keek video of a woman called Lujain Alhathloul calling to women to drive on the 26th of October. As Eman Alnafjan
kindly explained to me that Lujain Alhathloul isn’t the face of the campaign she is merely a supporter calling for people to drive. Never the less she was the one I saw campaigning for it and one of the reasons I personally didn’t sign the petition.
Why choose someone who the majority of Saudi women don’t relate to? We need to be realistic about this. Go out and look at the women you see who would be major driving forces in helping this happen. Would they relate to Lujain? It’s the basics of knowing your audience and market. Eman explained that they “needed to start with a bang and she was kind enough to lend (them) her huge fan base”. Is her fan base really the ones who will take this seriously? And work for an effective change? Some find her childish and many even progressive people find her antagonistic in the way she represents the campaign in the first place.
If you want this to work get the moderates involved. Get the majority involved. Include them don’t alienate them. Get the men involved! your husbands, brothers, fathers. Ask them to write to the governor, the decision makers and say ‘I want my wife/daughter/sister to be able to drive herself to work’.
Eman also said that “Saudi women don’t need a representative. We each represent ourself. Support the campaign not a person”. I totally agree but seeking out someone to be the voice of the campaign to start with a bang associates the whole campaign with that person. And if that person’s opinion is not respected by the true forces of our society (Conservative, hard working women who every day work to effect change in the society they are part of) then the people following that voice will not be sympathized with.
Choose the person who you want spreading the word to be in the reflection of the majority of Saudi women. And that is not Lujain, or Eman AlNafjan or me even! That is the conservative, hard working, hijab wearing (maybe even niqab wearing!) young Saudi woman who wants, just as much as you do, to drive herself. Choose the school teacher who has to leave her house hours early to catch the bus taking her and other teachers to work. The nurses who are stuck at the hospital between shifts because getting a ride is too difficult. The security woman at the airport who couldn’t get to her son in the hospital after he had an accident!
Choose the ones that represent the majority not the online celebrities, Let it resonate!