Saudi female driver speaks out for women: ‘Your rights are taken, not given’

Despite working as an information security consultant for a multinational company in Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif was not allowed to drive, just like millions of other women in her country.

But in 2011, she decided to change that. She filmed herself cruising behind the wheel of a car and uploaded the video to YouTube. The tape immediately went viral, and Al-Sharif was arrested for breaking the law that bars female drivers in Saudi Arabia.

Eventually released from jail after international outcry, the arrest only made her more determined to speak out for Saudi women’s rights. Her passion led her to write a recently released memoir, Daring to Drive: a Saudi Woman’s Awakening.

Al-Sharif spoke to USA TODAY about her arrest, her campaign for women’s rights and her hopes for change . Her comments have been condensed and edited for style and grammar.

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