There are two incredibly exciting implications to this change in law. The first, of course, is the immediate impact it has on the lives of Saudi women. Rapper Leesa A’s amazing video celebrating the ban lift has gone viral, amassing over a million views on YouTube and being reported on across several different channels.
As 33 year old Baheirah Khusheim describes to CNN, picking up her licence from Mecca was met with community support:
"The support from the community and officers was remarkable. As soon as you leave the license office, all you will hear is BEEP! BEEP! "MABROOK! CONGRATS!" from random strangers. It's a thrilling experience."
It is clear this change doesn’t just signal freedom for Saudi women, but for the Saudi people in general, who have the ambition and drive to bring their country forward.
The other equally significant impact lies in Saudi Arabia’s clear cut vision for the future for its’ economy. There’s no use trying to deny it any longer: to exclude women from the workforce is to eliminate half of the world’s talent, to stop them from growing is to literally be robbing companies of profit. The ROI of diversifying our workforces has already been well documented: one study by McKinsey shows companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 times more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry mean.
Understanding the wider implications of women in Saudi and how it relates to gender balance in the workplace is best explained by considering how attitudes towards women have shifted almost exponentially since the sixties. Millennials aren’t just taking over our offices: they’re creating art, taking over governments, gaining influence, and increasingly, they’re refusing to settle for the older ways of working. Even if it isn’t broke, it most certainly can be improved upon. As we watch videos of young women take their new cars for a spin, it’s hard to miss out the bigger picture: change is here, and we’re ready for it.