Khabar Khair (Only Good News) – Ruqiya Danana
The number of car licenses granted to women in Aden reached more than 2000 licenses in 2021.
The Traffic Department in Aden confirmed to “Khabar Khair” (Only Good News) website that “the number of licenses granted from 2010 AD to April 2021 AD is about 2000 license. This statistic excludes women who drive without a driver’s license, because they drive their parents’ cars.”
An Independence That Is Not Free From Difficulties
Talking about women’s empowerment relates to her ability to efficiently manage the impact of her daily life, independently of the need of others, and about that, Magda Hammadi who is an employee, says “My car driving strengthened my self-confidence and gave me a greater motivation to continue my career and achieve everything that I had dreamed of achieving,” she added, “women’s car driving gives them a kind of independence that enables them to set off into the future with confident steps”.
Sumaya, a car driver believes that a woman faces many difficulties regarding her movements. If she needs to go out for an important job and her father, husband, or brother is not present, then she must use taxis that often cause her to arrive late to her place of work, the reason that prompted her to learn to drive is the emergency situations and events that the country is going through.
However, this independence is not without discomforts, as the driver is sometimes harassed on public roads. Hammadi says, “There is no respect for car driving, and people do not abide much by the laws governing traffic, especially when they see a woman driving a car. They denounce the matter as if she is not good at driving. And they see that she is always a cause of a traffic crisis”.
Fatima Al-Abbad, a journalist and educator at the Faculty of Letters of University of Aden, believes that there are great challenges and great difficulties, especially in our community. She says, “I have been driving my car for about a month and a half and every time I go out of the house, I face harassment and exaggerated reactions from the street. The people of our society haven’t accepted the idea of a woman driving yet”.
Al-Abbad continues her speech, “On the personal level, the difficulties were greater and centered on the lack of experience of women in driving, unlike men who have more experience, because most of them have learnt to drive cars and motorcycles at an early age, but I did not consider this as an obstacle to prevent me from continuing my car driving lessons”.
One of Her Rights
In Yemen, there is no legal text to refuse a woman to drive a car. Indeed, the first woman to drive a taxi was Aisha Saleh in Aden, but the strange thing is the increasing number of women driving in Yemeni cities in light of the ongoing conflict in the country.
The human rights activist, Tahani Al-Sarari, spoke to the news site “Khabar Khair” (Only Good News) and said, “It is natural for women to obtain their right to drive, and I don’t know why this question was asked: Is it reasonable to dispute whether or not a woman is entitled to drive a car in 2021? In order to learn to drive a car, the law and the constitution gave them all the rights that enable them to carry out their activities in a normal way, so there are no restrictions preventing them from using their right to drive a car”.
Sumaya agrees with her, and she believes that the customs that once restricted women and are still prevalent in some areas have been overcome, especially since the law has guaranteed women this right, but in reality, there is another platform and a whip that is overwhelming for everyone, so the gasoline crisis made it difficult for women like men to stand in the gasoline queues. It sometimes lasts for days.
Community Advantages and Disadvantages
The generalization of the negative perception on the part of society towards the woman driving the car, in its entirety, is wrong. On this, Samar Muhammed says, “We must be fair if we talk about society’s dealings with women drivers, for example when there is a shortage of petrol and drivers stand in lines. Those at the station cooperate with the woman, or even the car that carries women and children, as they are allowed to pass the queue of cars and they are given priority in filling gasoline, so that they do not have to stand in the long queue, and car drivers and pedestrians also help female drivers, especially beginners in the car parking, whether she encounters a problem, or the car suddenly breaks down”.
Meanwhile, Muhammed Nasser believes that the current conditions make it imperative for women to own their own car to complete their work and tasks in their car instead of public transportation.
Nasser said, “Many men support the right of women to own and drive a car if the capabilities are available. A woman who needed her brother, father, husband, or a family member to stay with her and drive her can take care of that today, and she does not need anyone nor have to be late because of the transportation”.
The Yemeni woman’s car driving remains a very small percentage, not exceeding 2%, at a time when Yemeni women have become present in a large percentage in the labor market, and in private jobs and businesses, a large part of which was reserved to men.