Clinton Supports Saudi Women Drivers

By Christina Zhang
Christina Zhang
Christina Zhang
June 21, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

BEHIND THE WHEEL: Saudi women get into the backseat of a car in Riyadh on June 14, three days before a nationwide campaign by Saudi women to take the wheel in protest against a driving ban which is unique to the kingdom.  (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)
BEHIND THE WHEEL: Saudi women get into the backseat of a car in Riyadh on June 14, three days before a nationwide campaign by Saudi women to take the wheel in protest against a driving ban which is unique to the kingdom. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave her support to Saudi women wanting permission to drive in a speech in Washington, D.C. on June 21.

On June 17, Saudi women organized a massive women’s rights campaign to challenge laws that prevent them from driving.

The activist group Saudi Women for Driving had posted a petition on Change.org on Monday, calling for Clinton, a longtime supporter of women’s rights, to show public support for their cause.

In the petition, activists stressed “the extreme burden” for women who cannot drive and that Saudi Arabia is the “only country on earth where women are not allowed to drive, or even ride a bicycle.”

“Now, as we build the largest Saudi women’s protest movement in decades, we need your help,” pleaded the activists to Clinton.

In response to the petition, Clinton abandoned her earlier stance of “quiet diplomacy” and gave her public support to the Saudi trailblazers.

“What these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right,” said Clinton in her speech. “I am moved by it and I support them.”

She added that the United States had “raised the issue at the highest level of the Saudi government,” and that Saudi women “have the right to make decisions about their lives and their futures.”

Clinton also made clear that the effort by Saudi women “is not about the United States” or “what any of us on the outside say.”

“It is about the women themselves and their right to raise their concerns with their own government," she said.