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Women in Saudi Arabia advisory council challenge driving ban

Female members of a group that advises Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah are challenging the country’s ban on women driving, proposing that the tradition be overturned.

The women are members of the Shura Council, a group appointed by the king to issue recommendations to change Saudi Arabia’s laws. Its endorsements usually precede reforms, Reuters reports.

Latifa al-Shaalan and two other members, Haya al-Mani and Muna al-Mashit, filed a proposal Tuesday urging the body to "recognize the rights of women to drive a car in accordance with the principles of Sharia and traffic rules."

According to the AFP, Shaalan said that Saudi women have "made many achievements... and have acquired leading positions in the government and the United Nations, yet they are still banned from driving.”

“This creates a negative image abroad,” she added.

The members backed the proposal with studies that justify why women should drive.

The proposal will be reviewed by the council’s transport committee, which will decide whether or not to recommend it to Saudi Arabia’s transport ministry.

Women in Saudi Arabia cannot obtain drivers licenses and those who have been caught driving have been arrested in the past, Reuters reports.