An overseas Filipina worker from Dagupan City in Pangasinan has made history as the first Filipina to set off through the roads of Saudi Arabia as the kingdom started to allow women to drive on June 24 wherever they please.
OFW Graynne Angel Panitan is among thousands of women in the Gulf state who now regularly hits the road to and from work.
A video taken by her husband while she was driving around the streets of Riyadh made the rounds online.
The Filipina medical admin coordinator in Riyadh told The Filipino Times: “Katuwaan lang po namin ng asawa ko. Kinuhaan niya ako ng video habang nagmamaneho kasi nga po nakuha ko na ang lisensya ko.”
Panitan said that her valid Philippine driver’s license helped her to easily go through the process and requirements in Saudi. “Para po sa status ko, meron po kasi akong valid Philippine driver’s license. Sa ganito po, mas madali ang proseso dahil drive test na lang po ang exam after mo ma-secure lahat ng requirements,” she said.
She told TFT that although she has made history by being the first Filipina to get a driver’s license there, she wants other Filipinas to get their own as well.
She urged others female OFWs who are working in Saudi to free themselves from the constraints of needing to hire a male driver to travel even small distances as the long-decades ban has finally been lifted. That way, she said women can now join the workforce and explore the kingdom.
“Malaking tulong at kaginhawaan po ito para sa mga kababaihan. Hindi na po nila kailangan pang umasa sa kanilang mga asawa, ama, kapatid, drivers, o kaya sumakay pa sa mga taxi para sa kanilang mga lakad,” she said.
Panitan said she is very thankful for the reform because it will no longer limit women like her to achieve more success.
“Malaking pasasalamat po naming mga kababaihan sa aming Hari na si King Salman na pinayagan na po nila kami na makapagmaneho dito sa Saudi Arabia,” the Filipina said, thanking His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.