The Saudi pilot took the wheel of an F1 car to celebrate the lifting of the measure that prohibited women from driving in her native country
Aseel Al-Hamad is a racing driver, business administrator, and Saudi interior designer. Al-Hamad is also a member of the Automobile Federation of Saudi Arabia and representative of the Women's Committee for Sport of the International Automobile Federation (FIA). This Saudi driver is an exemplary pilot worldwide. However, she had never been able to drive on the streets of her native country. Why did this incredible and ironic situation happen?
The celebration of Aseel Al-Hamad and Formula 1
Aseel Al-Hamad, like millions of Saudi women, could not drive through the streets of Saudi Arabia, but now, with the lifting of the ban in the Arab country, Aseel Al-Hamad celebrated that milestone with Formula 1. The Saudi pilot drove a 2012 Lotus Renault E20 of F1 at the Paul Ricard Circuit just before the French Grand Prix was held on June 24, 2018, the same day the ban was lifted.
A special way to mark a special day- Formula 1 (@ F1) June 24, 2018
Aseel Al-Hamad drives in the @ RenaultSportF1 Passion Parade at the #FrenchGP on the same day Saudi Arabia allowed women to obtain a driving license pic.twitter.com/vserUodFly
"Driving a Formula 1 car was something beyond my dreams, something I never thought was possible. It is an honor to have taken the Renault Sport Formula One Team E20 to the crowd that attended the Grand Prix of France", said Aseel Al-Hamad in statements given to the official website of Renault.
"I hope that having done it on the day that women can drive on the roads of Saudi Arabia shows that everything can be achieved if one has the passion and the spirit to dream," added Aseel Al-Hamad in the same statement from the French team.
Jaguar joined the celebration and the FIA ensures more equality
The world-famous car brand, Jaguar Cars, released a video the same June 24 with Aseel Al-Hamad. In this, the Saudi pilot was driving for the first time at a circuit in Saudi Arabia to celebrate the lifting of the ban in her country. "What an emotional day! Driving for the first time in my homeland. Look what I did in a Jaguar FTYPE to celebrate that women in Saudi Arabia got the right to drive", the Saudi pilot wrote on her Instagram account.
On the other hand, Michéle Mouton, president of the FIA's Women in Sports Commission, assured that the entity will work tirelessly for gender equality in motor sports. "The FIA Women's Commission for Motorsports is dedicated to promoting opportunities in all forms of motor sports activities, but also to promoting equality between male and female counterparts in the large automotive industry and on the roads. To do this, we work in close collaboration with all the national sports federations to improve access to our sport", Mouton said in statements collected by the official website of Renault.
Aseel Al-Hamad has not only become the face of Saudi equality in Formula 1, she has also joined an extraordinary group of female pilots who are a great example of tenacity, dexterity, and female success. Pilots like:
The Colombian Tatiana Calderón
The Venezuelan Milka Duno
The British Divina Galica
The South African Desiré Wilson
The French Michéle Mouton
The Italians Giovanna Amati, Lella Lombardi and Maria Teresa de Filippis
They are just some of the representatives who have shown that women have no limits or barriers that can stop them.
Ardua struggles to drive on the streets of his country
Saudi Arabia is one of the most respectful countries of Islamic law, or Sharia as it is also known, so compliance with this law is paramount. Islamic law has several restrictions for women, because according to these statutes, women owe extreme obedience to men, as well as they must comply with a dress code. If they do not comply with these regulations, women are severely punished according to the Sharia.
Due to the lack of freedom, Saudi women have manifested themselves in countless opportunities and have created different social movements to fight for each of their rights. One of the most prominent examples is the "Women2Drive" movement, of which many women activists are still incarcerated. According to ABC News, Saudi Arabia had the only worldwide ban on women drivers, so it was of great importance to lift this violation of freedoms.
Several women of the "Women2Drive" protested for more than three decades, achieving results recently. King Salmán, promoted by his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmán, announced on September 26, 2017 that he would lift the ban on women drivers and begin handing out driving licenses to Saudi women from mid-2018, which was fulfilled on June 24, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.
Riyadh you look different from the driver's seat pic.twitter.com/Ki7Q10ZMmC- ASEEL AL HAMAD | (@ASEEL_ALHAMAD) June 29, 2018
This is a step of great relevance for Saudi women, because it not only means that they can drive through the streets of their own country, it also means the creation of a precedent in the Arab country that serves as an example and inspiration to continue fighting for more rights, more freedoms, and more independence.
LatinAmerican Post | Javier Aldana
Translated from " Aseel Al-Hamad y la Fórmula 1 dan un mensaje de igualdad al mundo del automovilismo"