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!

 

18 thoughts on “An Open Letter To the Women Behind the ‘October 26 Driving’ campaign. Let’s Try Something Different!

      • Mama B says:

        Thanks for you comment Nadia. I’m sorry you thought I was writing about Lujain in a derogatory manner. I don’t feel like I was tho. I was simply stateting that in my opinion and others she is not a seriouse force for change in women’s rights here. And yes she is childish in the way she represents the issues. Her arguments are not well thought out in my opinion. But what I said in the post wasn’t derogetory. Lujain has put herself out there, as I have in a sense, and I am sure she is capable of receiving criticism and is expecting it. Did you get anything else from the post besides that? Lol

        • Nadia says:

          “Did you get anything else”. My, my, aren’t we condescending. Well, if you can’t take criticism, I suggest you refrain from dolling it out. As to your post, I agree with the gist of it, however I personally would not have named anyone. A good writer should be able to make her point without putting anyone down.

          • Mama B says:

            They are considered public figures tho who are publicly calling for this campaign so it’s no secret who they are. I don’t think they would mind me mentioning them by name. They may not even care!

  1. Nadia says:

    Also, your suggestion of writing to the governor has been tried before. A total of about 1000 letters were sent 2 years ago with no response.

    • Mama B says:

      The problem is, in my opinion, it’s always a stamp your feet I want this now protest. I think it should be a intellectual presentation of all the fact and system for lifting this ban. And I vageuly remember the letters but cannot remember details honestly. This method was tried twice before without effect and this is the third time. People don’t seem to have lost hope in this! lol. So try the letter again. Why not. Along with a study that shows the benefits, how to implement the laws and examples of other who have done it in the cultures around us. This issue is not an issue for a lot of people that they care about as much as we do. There is no (excuse my pun) Drive behind getting women to drive. and if the community is not behind it AND working towards it then this attempt will fizzle out again. We need the men to back us up, we need to raise the level of conversation and bring in moderate, well respected people to support it and we need to have a plan. Thats what I think personally. In my view the motivation behind these campaigns is not clear.

  2. Maha says:

    They tried that the last campaign. All those anonymous women behind a niqab. You know why it doesn’t work? No face. :) no connnection. no empathy.

    I’m personally not a fan of lujain myself (she has a pretty smile and a huge fanbase, good for her) but I won’t let that distract me from the main issue, and that is to unite and bring our voices together in one petition.

    • Mama B says:

      Hi maha, thanks for the comment. The idea is not for them to go out and drive on the 26th. I think that method will never work. The idea is to get them on board to campaign for it. I see the Saudi women of our community and when they get together for something they have an impact. This campaign alienates not only the conservative but the moderates as well. This needs to come from them and be run by them. In my own humble opinion this is as effective as a campaign run by foreigners. It’s not relatable to a huge huge segment of the population. And they have tried this campaign three times why not try the letters again! I remember this was done but honestly I cannot remember who initiated it and what the tone was. It does a lot for the credibility. If you have more details of the letters could you remind me please?

  3. jewelyia says:

    actually,I am afraid of my driver but what I do.I must support my fear.i want to cry sometimes when I see him,sorry but it is difficult for me maybe I leave.

  4. Maryam AG says:

    Remind the men of this country that their drivers are often staring at their wives and daughters in the rear view mirror. It’s disgusting…and what can you do? Fire him? I don’t think so…because it may take up to a year to replace him with the backward system and corrupt agencies. No, we put up with smelly, rude, and possible dangerous drivers in KSA because the leaders are wealthy and have a stable of drivers to choose from for their women. Meanwhile, the middle class women are forced to endure the torture of their one driver, like it or not. The entire system is backwards, barbaric, and ridiculous. The late King Faisal opened girls schools against the fanatics wishes by just doing it…and telling them to keep their daughters home if they wanted, but not to stop others from progress. That is what is needed to open up women’s driving. Tomorrow, allow any woman currently holding an international driver’s license to immediately begin driving, and then start driving schools and licensing for women asap. Leadership. Brains. Courage. that is what is needed NOW.

  5. Lavender Om Lujain says:

    If I was asked a couple of years ago (heck a year ago) I would have disagreed. Now, what can I say, I fully agree with you.

    The sad reality is there is an attitude of you are with us or against us mentality going on. You either fully agree with us, or you are enemies that have been brainwashed. Anyone that knows me, knows I am very vocal on this issue. I WANT TO DRIVE. I really do. Sometimes my immobility makes me feel helpless and I have even cried a few times out of complete frustration- I have had a licence for half my life, yet can’t use it int he country I call home.

    Anyway, what really is needed is for us (the women) to push our husbands, our fathers, our brothers, our uncles, our sons, to go out and say YES, we want them to drive, yes we believe in them. Let them be heard on the governmental level. It’s been said over and over again that it’s a societal issue, then the society needs to come together, not be polarized by anyone that for example thinks a women who covers her face is a weak woman, a woman who has no voice, or a woman who does not deserve to be heard. This campaign needs to be directed to the people of SAUDI Arabia… not the West. This is has truly been one of the biggest mistakes in manny of these campaigns. Directing it to the wrong group of people. I have a friend that lives in Jeddah, she drives nearly everyday, she is religious, and covers her face. It is people like her, and the average Saudi women (who chose to cover, or not to cover) that need to be at the root of this.

    Sadly, I have seen a lot of girls poking fun at other Saudi women, belittling their choice in covering, looking down at them for being conservative- mind you once again, anyone who knows me knows I am far from conservative, but I do respect everyone’s choice. Last year I was on a Facebook group for the women driving campaign. Sadly what i saw had nothing to do with Driving, most of it became a platform for bashing different Saudi Sheikhs, taking videos and having them grossly mistranslated, and then sent off to the foreign press, and yet again translating articles from local papers that were purposely given a whole new meaning. I pointed it out once, and what seems to me a teenage girl full of anger responded in the rudest manner possible. She lost me, I unliked the page, and moved on, still needing this ban to be lifted, but refusing to align myself with such childish behavior. This is a local issue – for all women that make Saudi Arabia home. For all Men who have women in their lives, as soon as people start to direct it towards the people in Saudi, give the average woman here a voice, I truly believe things will change. Get the conservatives on board, whether we like it or not, they really are the best campaigners in the country, let them understand the difference between culture and religion, include them do not bas them. This campaign needs to REALLY be by the people for the people… no alienation, no us Vs them… but rather an US with one voice!

    Wa enshallah soon enough my dream of driving without barriers or conditions will happen. Qatar did it a decade ago, and I am sure Saudi Arabia is fully capable of doing it as well!

    • Mama B says:

      “Get the conservatives on board, whether we like it or not, they really are the best campaigners in the country,” exactly! And the majority! People will listen to them before they listen to someone uncovered. We do not want to be western! We want our islamic rights! Beautiful and eloquent comment. Thank you Lavi!

    • Mama B says:

      It’s not about being covered or not it’s about asking who really represents the majority of Saudi women? And about asking what drives the women of this last campaign? Is it truly getting women to drive or showing the world why women don’t drive? There’s a difference. Who the campaign is targeting and what the motives behind it and who is backing it will effect my decision and obviously many other women’s to back or not to back.

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