The ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia will stay for at least some time more, the country's foreign minister indicated on Friday.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who was in Munich on Friday, called for patience on the issue of women's rights in the kingdom, including they still being denied the right to drive. The minister highlighted steps taken by Saudi Arabia for women's education in the last five decades, according to AFP.
"When it comes to issues like women's driving, this is not a religious issue, it's a societal issue. I'm not saying 'Give us 200 years'. I'm saying 'Be patient'," Jubeir said at the Munich Security Conference, mentioning that it took the United States two centuries to get its first female parliamentary speaker after Independence.
"We went from no school for women in 1960 to universal education, to where today 55 percent of college students are women. Some of our top doctors and engineers and lawyers and business people are women. The issue is one that is evolving just like it is in other countries," the Saudi minister said.
While defending the state of women's rights in the kingdom, Jubeir said technology may push the country towards more rights for its female citizens.
"We hope that in the modern world with technology and communications this process is accelerated, but things take time. We can't expect to rush things," he said.
Women in Saudi Arabia face several societal restrictions and reportedly require permission from male members of their family to travel or pursue higher education.
Saudi women voted in and contested elections for the first time in December 2015, which saw 21 women elected to local governing bodies, along with nearly 2,100 men. However, despite the historic move, several elected female councillors have complained of being asked to sit separately from men at council meetings.
Two women who insisting on being seated along with male members at council meetings reportedly recveived death threats last month.