Three PNW women heading to Saudi Arabia to establish driving schools
BEAVERTON, Ore —
A trio of driving instructors from the Pacific Northwest are set for the adventure of a lifetime as they work to establish driving schools for women in Saudi Arabia.
The country still bans women from driving, but that will change this summer. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that still prohibits women from driving.
"Absolutely no hesitation whatsoever," said Cheryl Van Derwalker with Driving Solutions International on her excitement for the trip.
Laws in Saudi Arabia require women be taught exclusively by women, and with no female driving instructors in the country, Van Derwalker and her colleagues are in high demand.
"We fortunately have the skill set to tell them this is how you start a school, here's all the ways to enroll them, here's how you work with the instructors," Van Derwalker said.
The groups first trip will last 10 days and they'll work with women's colleges to set the framework for the driving schools. They anticipate they'll be back later this spring to work in a classroom with women on the rules of the road and get them behind the wheel.
"I am humbled to be standing at this historic moment and to play any part in it at all," said Lois Lents, with Driving Solutions International.
An estimated 9 million women are expected to register to drive.
"I am thrilled to meet these women and let them know how excited the world is for them," Lents said.
Their excitement hasn't waned, but they worry about making any mistakes that jeopardize the movement towards the liberation of millions of Saudi Arabian women.
"There will be a group of people that do not want this change," said Dominique Kuzmaak, of Driving Solutions International. "We need to get this right so that we can prove that it works."