The women of Saudi Arabia are in the midst of a quiet revolution. On Friday, more than 40 Saudi women took to the roads in protest of the country's driving ban. Some of the women later tweeted accounts of their civil disobedience.
One such woman, 39-year-old Maha Al Qahtani, who works for the ministry of education, said most of her friends didn't participate in the protest. "But we have to make our point that it's our right and they should respect that."
Launched last March, the grassroots campaign hopes to challenge the restrictions on the independence and mobility of Saudi women. Under the current legislation, women need a male guardian to accompany them outside the home. There is no law against driving per se, but just imagine the inconvenience of having to rely on a man in order to leave the house. To pick up the kids from school. To buy some milk, a loaf of bread...
Somewhat ironically, many Saudi women hire drivers (foreign men from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan) so they can get where they need to go. It's estimated that the number of chauffeurs is somewhere around 750,000.
The custom arises out of social and cultural mores rather than legal obligation. Driving is seen as leading the women one step closer to Westernization, or the first step to "losing their society's Islamic identity" according to a recent article in the Toronto Star. Still, the driving ban is not to be taken lightly. Just last month, the Saudi government detained a woman for nine days after she posted a video on YouTube of herself driving.
74-year-old Betty Fox, mother of the Canadian hero, Terry Fox's, died this past Friday. She had been seriously ill, but sources say she wasn't suffering from cancer.
Back in 1977 her son Terry lost his leg to bone cancer. Overwhelmed by seeing others in his predicament suffering, he endeavoured to run across Canada in the 1980 "Marathon of Hope" to raise money to fight the disease. He ended up running 5,373 kilometres -- all the way from St. John’s to Thunder Bay -- before he had to call it quits. He died the following year, at just 22-years of age. Since that historic run, his legacy has provided over $550 million for cancer research worldwide.
Behind every hero lies a great woman. Betty was known as the "driving force" behind that colossal fundraising operation. Through her own drive and determination, she continued to organize races and raise funds. She played a vital role in the creation of a foundation and research institute.
"When you think about the fact that Terry's run was, you know, 30 years ago and that it's still very much alive and that people who were not even born when Terry did his run are still running today... That's an incredible accomplishment," said Fred Tinck, Terry Fox's high school running coach.
News of her death inspired many to voice their condolences on the Terry Fox Foundation website. “Canada will miss her and the world was made a better place because she lived in it for so long — heart, soul and devotion to her son and a cause,” wrote Serena Payne.
According to the Canadian Press, Betty and Terry initially didn't see eye to eye about his proposed marathon. Mother and son eventually reconciled. 143 days and nearly 5,400 kilometres later, however, the cancer had returned, this time to his lungs. He was forced to abandon the marathon outside of Thunder Bay, Ont.
Little did his mother know he -- and she -- would go on to make history.
Image Credit: The Globe And Mail
In an article for The Sunday Telegraph for Father's Day, British Prime Minister David Cameron reminisced about his own father's legacy, while reserving strong words for the country's deserter dads. Cameron stressed the need to make Britain "a genuinely hostile" place for AWOL fathers.
"It's high time runaway dads were stigmatised, and the full force of shame was heaped upon them," said Cameron.
"They should be looked at like drink drivers, people who are beyond the pale. They need the message rammed home to them, from every part of our culture, that what they're doing is wrong – that leaving single mothers, who do a heroic job against all odds, to fend for themselves simply isn't acceptable."
Various laws were proposed in 2009, which could see absentee fathers "stripped of driving licences and passports by enforcement officials without appearing in court".
The British Prime Minister insisted that fathers must support their kids both financially and emotionally, even if they are estranged from the children's mother.
He praised his government's family-friendly reforms, which include flexible paternity leave, additional benefits and financial assistance, all of which he claimed was a step in the right direction to "bring fathers back into the lives of all our children".
While the Prime Minister had nothing but praise for the job done by his own late father, he doesn't claim to be a perfect father to his three kids. His first child, Ivan, was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and died when he was only six.