Islam is a balanced religion. It has room for everyone. Saudi Arabia doesn’t represent Shariah accurately.
Women should be allowed to drive because often men are not available. E. g. old father, husband away for work, son too young etc. It is a simple but strong reason.
Secondly, the idea of veil is treated with disdain and is portrayed as a symbol of oppression and control by the media. It is definitely not that. Veils for women is nothing new, it is a symbol of respect and royalty, from pharaohs to ancient Rome. Even now the wedding attire for Christian brides has a net veil and cover.
It is important for us to understand the roots of problems as follows:
1. The problem lies partially in men who try to force women to veil, upon which it seems as oppression. The correct method is always gentle persuasion.
2. Some women, on the other hand do not respect their sanctity, and perceive the show of skin and structure as an act of independence and power. It is not that, they are symbols of dignity and not eye-candy for passers by. They must be highly revered in the Islamic society.
Instead of being an icon for societal development and unwavering rights to females, KSA comes across as an ancient civilization. It saddens me to see how Islam is being massively portrayed as a religion of oppression and aggression.
Yes, education is definitely necessary for gender equality.
There is a spectrum of issues which eventually lead to the inequality though.
1. Parents do not invest enough in their daughters when it comes to education.
2. Daughters are not allowed to work, because of the fear of harassment.
3. After marriage due to the responsibilities at home, women have to sacrifice their work.
Solution to all of this is balance and understanding. I think several "modern" females misunderstand "feminism" and go way overboard with it; they have double standards when it comes to equality.
Islam is a balanced religion and hence Shariah is too! A very simple solution can exist for all this:
1. Bringing about education reforms, increasing the female-only institutions and making them free will drastically increase the number of women attending such institutions. Such institutions should have a female only policy, where the administration and academic bodies are all females. We have a great female work force and they should be utilized. This step might solve Problem 1.
2. Government should encourage companies to have separate female buildings in compounds. This way we can eliminate the problem 2. Now females who veil themselves can roam freely in that compound. A female only work place will encourage fathers and husbands to allow their daughters/wives to practice their education to the maximum extent.
3. We are a Muslim nation, so we should be more developed and advanced than the others. Why can companies not devise flexible 4-6 hours/day schedules for ladies? This way ladies would never have to compromise on their family life! The kids would be at school, the husband, father in the office and the ladies in their professional organizations! Might solve problem 3!
It is very integral for my nation that the ladies are given their due share of resources and opportunities. I might get bashed by hard-core feminists, which would be understandable and they won't come up with positive solutions in light of how our culture is. However, I do encourage feedback!
My point explained, I would also like to mention that females are the backbones of a developing nation. A developing nation is dependent on its mothers. If mothers do not give ample time to their kids and leave them at the mercy of daycare, the children are unlikely to be raised with innate deeply rooted emotions of love and attention. All counter examples of "developed" nations to this are void because the fabric of their society is corrupt and only presents an illusion of harmony.