Photo courtesy of Caroline K
I drive from St. Paul to Minnetonka every morning. It’s a 35 to 45 minute commute–when the weather is good. So lately, with snow on the roads, I’ve been feeling uncharitable towards other drivers (fat heads!) who are treating the roads like their own personal ski slope to slalom down and other drivers as exciting obstacles to dart around and careen between.
Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, women in the Iraqi capital have virtually disappeared from behind the wheel. With gun battles raging, the police force collapsing and the traffic lights dead, highways turned into a Mad Max world. Even today, you can travel for a half-hour across the sprawling city and not see a single woman driving.
But with the sharp drop in violence this year, women are venturing onto the roads. They are gingerly reclaiming freedoms denied by the Islamic extremists who warned them to stop driving, give up makeup and cover their hair — or risk death.
Ahmed is one of those who has taken advantage of the waning presence of the militias to abandon her head scarf and long skirts and get behind the wheel. “Driving means someone is brave,” she said. “They’re strong. Not only in their body but in their spirit.”
So now I am cherishing my driver’s license. I’m loving the way that the ability to drive can give wings to women who love independence and self-reliance. Go sisters, go!
The Beatle’s song, Drive My Car, is running through my head but I substitute the word “I” for “you.” Come on, sing along.