Empowering Discussions

The Struggle In Oppressive Societies: Changing Societal Rules As Opposed to Laws.

In 1919 Luisa Capetillo, a labor and human rights activist wore pants in public and was thus sent to jail for her crime. In 1969 Charlotte Thompson Reid was the first woman to wear pants in the U.S. congress. When Title IX passed in 1972 it was no longer required for girls to wear dresses to school. Creating change in every social issue, even seemingly simple ones like women being allowed to wear pants or being allowed to drive, takes time and effort.

In 2011 Manal al-Sharif wanted to drive a car in her home country and this made her a human rights activist. In Saudi Arabia it is not illegal for women to drive themselves, but because of religious laws stating that women drivers create such “evils” as prostitution and drug use, mass society has decreed it wrong and accepted it as truth. So she decided to be a spark of change by creating a social campaign that encourages women to take the wheel and drive.

With the help of family and friends she began driving. She was arrested and put in jail, her brother was arrested for giving her the keys to his car, and they were both, along with their families, threatened. It took a mass social action of petitions, online activism and the simple act of women driving to slowly change the idea that women shouldn’t drive. Below is her TED talk about the experience.

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