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30 Most Inspiring Facts Every Woman Should Know About Manal al-Sharif

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Manal al-Sharif, the founder of Women2Hack Academy, is the only woman working as an IT security specialist at state-owned oil producer, Saudi Aramco. She had been sent to jail for nine days from May 22, 2011 to May 30, 2011, for her women's right to drive campaign. Here are some really aspiring facts about the Saudi Arabian women's rights activist:

  1.  She accidentally became an activist who took a stand for the women witha vocal opposition to oppression, and was a major influence on the women’s rights movement.
  2.  Al-Sharif is one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and Newsweek’s top 10 tech-revolutionaries, is a prominent voice advocating for women’s rights and empowerment.
  3.  Al-Sharif is the first Saudi Arabian women to be given a ticket. She tweeted ‘the first Saudi traffic violation that was issued to a women was actually for me for driving without a license on May 19, 2011,’ and that she paid $240.
  4.  She was born Manal Masoud Almonemial-Sharif on April 25, 1979, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia as the second daughter of a taxi driver from Saudi Arabia and a Libyan mother.
  5.  Al-Sharif graduated from King Abdulaziz University with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and a Cisco Career Certification.
  6.  She is known to be the first women to specialize in Information Security with a career started in 2002 with Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world at the time.
  7.  At the age of 24 she married a Saudi Arabian national and gave birth to her son, Aboudi. After the marriage ended in divorce, she moved to Dubai as she lost the custody of her son with travel restriction citing a 10th century Islamic text. She was forced to travel back to Saudi Arabia whenever she wanted to see him.
  8.  She again married Rafael, a Brazilian national in accordance with Islamic law after he formally converted to Islam and took a Muslim name. The couples live in Australia and have a son named Daniel Hamza.
  9.  In June 2017, Al-Sharif published a book, ‘Daring to Drive: a Saudi Women’s Awakening,’ through Simon & Schuster in five language, German, Arabic, Turkish, Danish, apart from English.
  10.  Her bestselling memoir ‘Daring to Drive: a Saudi Women’s Awakening,’ is an intimate story of her life growing up in one of the most masculine societies in the world. It was voted by ‘GoodReads Readers Choice Award,’ as one the best ten memoirs for 2017 and was listed as #1 book for the summer read by Oprah Magazine.
  11.  In late May, 2011, Al-Sharif drove her car in Khobar with Wajeha al-Huwaider, filming. She was reportedly detained on May 21 by religious police and released after six hours on signing a form promising not to drive again. Women in Saudi Arabia have limited freedom of movement and in practice are not allowed to drive motor vehicle.
  12.  Following the video being posted on to YouTube and Facebook in a campaign to overturn a ban on female drivers in the deeply conservative kingdom. More than 600,000 people watched the video as al-Sharif is seen chatting to a female friend as she drives around the eastern city of Khobar.
  13.  The YouTube video of al-Sharif drive became inaccessible at its original location and the Facebook page for the campaign was deleted. When the Twitter account used by her was copied and altered, her supporters republished with a summary of al-Sharif five recommended rules for the June 17 campaign on a blog and by The New York times.
  14.  On May 22, 2011, at about 3 am the police came to her home to take her into detention again. On the advice of Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, she was sentenced to five days imprisonment.
  15.  On May 24, 2011, the Amnesty International declared al-Sharif to be a prisoner of conscience urged the Saudi Arabian authority to release women arrested following driving campaign. The Amnesty International said women face severe discrimination on account of gender in Saudi Arabia and Manal al-Sharif is following in a long tradition of women activist around the world.
  16.  On May 26, 2011, after seeing her case become a rallying call for youths anxious for change, the prosecutor general of the Eastern Province extended her detention for another 10 days while the investigation was in progress. This is the message that any woman who dares to drive her car will face the same destiny he said.
  17.  Her arrest has drawn criticism from international and local rights group. The New York Times describedal-Sharif campaign as a budding protest movement that the Saudi government tried to swiftly extinguish. The Associated Press said that Saudi authorities cracked down harder than usual on al-Sharif.
  18.  According to her lawyer Adnan al-Saleh, she is charged with inciting women to drive and rallying public opinion. She was released on May 30, on conditional bail of returning for questioning if required, not driving and not talking to media.
  19.  On June 17, 2011, she and about 35 Saudi women got behind the wheel to launch a ‘Women Drivers’ Day.’ She set up a Facebook group urging women to post videos of them driving and posted such a video herself.
  20.  In 2011, al-Sharif joined a group of women and started a Facebook campaign named ‘Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself’ or ‘Women2Drive’ that says that women should be allowed to drive. About 12,000 readers of the Facebook page had expressed their support by May 21, 2011.
  21.  An online petition addressed to King Abdullah, asking him to free Al-Sharif and grand women the right to drive, gathered signatures from more than 600 men and women after it was organized by Walid Abu al-Khair, a Saudi lawyer and human rights advocate. Saudi Arabia is the only country that bars women from driving.
  22.  On November 15, 2011, al-Sharif filed an objection with the General Directorate of Traffic in Riyadh, the country’s capital, when officials rejected her license application. After waiting 90 days and receiving no response, she filed her suit against them in November.
  23.  She is a TED & Harvard speaker. She also spoke in the United Nations, UNESCO, the Obama Summit, Google, Yahoo!, Oslo Freedom Forum, WIRED, Trust Women, The Arab Institute in Paris, the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington DC, Rosevelt House in NY, Clinton Global Initiative, Women in the World, Dallas World Affair Council, and many more.
  24.  She took her arrest as an education on domestic slavery. When she was jailed, she recorded the names and stories of the women in prison with her and after she was released from prison, al-Sharif started a Twitter campaign called ‘Faraj’ to release Saudi, Filipino, and Indonesian women prisoners in the Dammam women’s prison who ‘are locked up just because they owe a small sum of money but cannot afford to pay the debt.’ She helped many of her jail mates make their way back home.
  25.  Her speech at Oslo Freedom Forum was chosen amongst 75 notable speeches throughout history, published in the book Speeches of Note by Shaun Usher.
  26.  On January 23, 2012, al-Sharif was mistakenly reported dead in a car crash in Jeddah. However The Guardian confirmed on January 25, that she was very much alive and that the actual victim was an unnamed member of a desert community who was not involved in the female driving campaign.
  27.  In May 2011, she was one of the three people awarded the first annual ‘Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent’ at Oslo Freedom Forum. To attend the conference in Norway, al-Sharif says she was pressured out of her job at the Saudi Oil Company Aramco.
  28.  In December 2012 al-Sharif criticized an initiative by the Saudi Arabian government to inform husbands via SMS when their wives or dependents leave the country. She said the small fact of the SMS story gives you the idea of the bigger problem with the whole guardianship system.
  29.  In February 2013, she worked to bring international attention to the case of five-year-old Lama al-Ghamdi’, whose father Fayhan al-Ghamdi admitted to having disciplined her with a cane, cable and abused her resulting in her death. Initially he served four months in jail and paid blood money but later in October 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, plus 800 lashes.
  30.  In 2012, al-Sharif was named one of the Fearless Women of the year by ‘The Daily Beast,’ and named her as one of the ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011,’ by Foreign Policy magazine.
  31.  Manal al-Sharif Net Worth: $1 Million

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