Women fight for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia – Click above to watch video after the jump

In their ongoing quest to secure the ability to legally drive, a group of Saudi women are beseeching Subaru to stop selling vehicles in countries that prohibit female drivers from taking to the road. According to Change.org, more than 1,000 people an hour are signing a petition that hopes to convince the Japanese automaker to do just that. Saudi Women for Driving has already sent an open letter to the decision makers at Fuji Heavy Industries urging them to stop business in Saudi Arabia until women are allowed behind the wheel.

Why Subaru? While the movement is also urging other automakers to do the same, its leaders decided to focus on Subaru because of the brand's tendency to market heavily toward women.

Saudi Women for Driving officially got under way when Manal al Sharif posted videos of herself driving in the country as a protest against unjust laws. After her videos were removed by shadowy government agencies, she was arrested for her transgressions and announcements on Twitter lead followers to believe that she had abandoned her efforts. But with campaigns like the one urging Subaru to abandon business in the market underway, the topic doesn't look to be going away anytime soon. Hit the jump for the full press blast as well as al Sharif's original video.





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Saudi Women to Subaru: Stop Selling Cars Where Women Can't Drive Them

Saudi activists call on Subaru, which markets heavily to women, to pull out of Saudi Arabia until women get the right to drive; Change.org campaign already attracting 1,000 signatures an hour.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – More than 1,000 people an hour are signing a new viral Change.org campaign created by a coalition of leading Saudi Arabian women's rights activists calling on Subaru to stop selling cars in the oil-rich kingdom until a ban on women driving is lifted.

Saudi Women for Driving, a coalition of leading Saudi women's rights activists, bloggers and academics campaigning for the right to drive, sent an open letter Wednesday to the senior management of the Japanese transportation conglomerate Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns Subaru.

"While Subaru is marketed heavily at women, your company is simultaneously making hundreds of millions selling your cars in the only country on earth where women aren't allowed to drive," the Saudi women's coalition wrote to the car manufacturer. "We write to you with a simple request: that Subaru publicly pledge to pull out of Saudi Arabia until such time as women are allowed to drive."

Saudi Women for Driving plans to launch similar campaigns against a number of other car companies, but decided to target Subaru first due to the company's heavy marketing of the Subaru brand to women.

One day after the campaign's launch, Saudi Women for Driving had recruited more than 44,000 supporters on Change.org, the world's fastest growing platform for social change.

"It's still early, but recruiting 1,000 supporters an hour is an unprecedented level of growth for a campaign," said Change.org's Human Rights Editor Benjamin Joffe-Walt. "The amount of momentum these Saudi women have managed to build in one month is incredible: first they successfully mobilized more than 70,000 people to help a Saudi mother arrested for driving her own car, then they successfully led a month-long campaign to get the United States' top diplomat to publicly stand with them, and now they are taking on their most ambitious campaign yet. I can't wait to see what happens next."

The Saudi women's Subaru campaign follows a significant victory for Saudi women's rights' activists. Saudi Women for Driving recently called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to publicly support their right to drive. Her spokesperson responded, and said Clinton was doing so through "quiet diplomacy." But Saudi women pushed back on that approach, launching a massive Change.org campaign to convince Clinton to reconsider and telling the secretary of state yesterday that "quiet diplomacy is not what we need right now." At a press conference two hours later, the top U.S. diplomat publicly declared her support for the Saudi women's right to drive campaigns, calling them "brave".

Saudi Women for Driving is an informal consortium of Saudi women's rights activists pulled together after the arrest of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi mother jailed for driving her car. The group seeks to use online campaigning to build international support for Saudi women's right to drive. More than 150,000 people in 156 countries have joined Saudi Women for Driving campaigns on Change.org.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      jbm0866
      • 3 Years Ago
      I hate to break it to the Saudi women, but the "powers that be" in Saudi Arabia don't buy Subarus and won't give a flip if they stop selling there. If you want to be really truthful, those same powers that be don't really care if women drive or not, but they bow to the religious leaders that allow them to stay in power without too much violence and unrest.
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      The saudis aren't all wrong. No women driving cuts at least half the problem. And no asian female drivers either. Sure, it's racist, sexist, misogynistic, but there's a kernal of truth. By the same token, accidents would go down if men were banned from driving and only women could drive. Now THERE'S an experiment!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Dan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Saudi is a completely different culture then America. They are far from implementing women's rights. I dont think I could live in that culture either. I like ours just fine. It can almost be viewed as oppression. Having said all of that. Get off of Subaru. If you want to change something you are going after the wrong entity. Go after entities with actual power to change things. If I were Subaru, there would be no way I would pull out. Stop harassing businesses that do little and start with a better attack plan.
        scott
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan
        ALMOST viewed as oppression? Seriously?
        emperor koku
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan
        Scott beat me to it...ALMOST? Really? That's definitely an oppressive culture, in more ways than this.
      ColeWorld
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honestly.. after driving today in San Francisco rain, I will side with the sexist comments.
      Finklestein
      • 3 Years Ago
      Saudi women want Subaru to stop selling cars where women can't drive? Hmm. Guess that means Subaru will have to stop selling cars worldwide.
      EChid
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well this is refreshing. So far most of the 8 comments have been disgusting, sexist garbage. Geez, thankless hicks.
      A.Boy
      • 3 Years Ago
      You know what they say...Women Drivers, No Survivors!
      A.Boy
      • 3 Years Ago
      You know what they say...Women Drivers, No Survivors!
      Ak74
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wouldn't have my two car accidents if women would be driving. So i guess its ok for women not to drive. I wish we had rules like that in the US
      jaazani
      • 3 Years Ago
      depends how much money they stand to loose. subaru should make every women involved in this campaign promise to buy a subaru.
      Seph
      • 3 Years Ago
      Subaru is for women? WTH! Either way, women shouldn't drive, I guess. Because they're slow on the road, and would ask for help if their tires is flat... SUck that!
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