“When women break that taboo and they’re not afraid to drive that car by herself – that’s it. Now she has the guts to speak up for herself and take action.” ~ Manal Al Sharif, Women’s Rights Activist
Summary: Manal Al-Sharif is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia who helped start a women’s right to drive campaign in 2011. In May 2011, Al-Sharif filmed herself driving a car in Saudi Arabia, where women are prohibited from driving. She posted the video on YouTube, called on women to participate in a Women2Drive campaign on June 17 of that year, the video received nearly 700,000 views in a single day. During a second turn at the wheel, she was imprisoned for nine days. Al-Sharif was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”, and by Arabian Business as the most inspiring Arab woman. She was also awarded the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Al-Sharif was the first Saudi female IT security consultant working for the oil company Saudi Aramco for 10 years. Lan Anh Vu sat down with Al-Sharif at Forum 2000 to hear more about her journey, how she launched the Women2Drive movement and the key lessons she has learned along the way.
Nationality: Saudi Arabian
Q: Why did you decide to advocate for Saudi women’s right to drive ? on npr.org
A: I think it chose me. I didn’t choose it. As a single mom, I was divorced with a son and I had a car and I had a driver’s license, but I couldn’t drive my car. I was paying the installments for this car for five years. That was very frustrating. I almost got kidnapped once because I couldn’t find a car to take me back home.