Women’s Rights Group Petitions Subaru to Stop Selling in Saudi Arabia

Considering 62 percent of new-car purchases are made by women, and almost 80 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by women, appealing to the female buyer is critical to any automaker’s success. But Subaru, with all its female marketing, may have slighted some living in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Women for Driving, a group of activists fighting for Saudi women’s rights (particularly the right to drive), wants Subaru to stop selling its vehicles in Saudi Arabia. While Subaru is busy thinking of more ways to appeal to the female market, it is making millions selling its vehicles in a place where women can’t even benefit from them.  The desert country is the only place in the world that bans both Saudi and foreign women from driving, among other things—a direct result of the country’s strict interpretation of Sharia Islamic law. Not having the ability to drive makes the most basic errands a burden, while imposing safety risks for women needing to rely on strangers as drivers.

The group has started a petition and campaign on Change.org, urging supporters to help in the fight against gender apartheid in the Middle Eastern country. More than 1000 people an hour are signing an open letter sent to the senior management of Fuji Heavy Industries, owner of Subaru.  The group’s goal is to have the automaker agree to stop further sales of its vehicles to Saudi Arabia until the ban on women driving is lifted.

We contacted Subaru and Michael McHale, Director of Corporate Communications told us, “We are pleased to be recognized as a progressive company by the coalition and while this is a larger issue that needs to include all car makers that sell in Saudi Arabia, we are monitoring the situation.”

The women’s rights coalition plans to launch similar campaigns against other automakers, targeting Subaru first because of its heavy marketing toward women. The growing support for the group took off after a Saudi mother was arrested for driving her own car, and the group hopes its online campaigning will help build international support for Saudi women’s right to drive. More than 150,000 people in 156 countries have joined Saudi Women for Driving campaigns on Change.org.

Source: Saudi Women for Driving, Subaru

 

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