The long-awaited #Dakar2020 finally kicked off in Saudi Arabia and female rally drivers have shared their enthusiasm to be in a country witnessing vast reforms for women’s rights. It’s not just about racing in the sand but also about making their voices heard. The awesome women racers are firm believers that their participation furthers the empowerment of Saudi women.
Many of the 13 women, from Europe, South Africa and South America, who are competitors in the #Dakar2020 race, voiced support for their Saudi sisters, which are now witnesses of revolutionary changes.
"I am sure it is positive to show everyone here that women can be competitive and strong and I am happy to represent women here," said 34-year-old Spanish biker Laia Sanz, who is taking part in the rally for the 10th time.
Italian driver Camelia Liparoti, who is taking part in her 12th Dakar, expressed her gratitude to be participating in this iconic race. “We are fortunate to be female athletes coming (to Saudi Arabia) to compete and able to demonstrate that there are women who do things in a man’s world,” the 51-year-old with the pink Side-by-Side Vehicle told AFP.
For Jutta Kleinschmidt, who in 2001 became the only woman to win the Dakar stated to AFP that this race can make a difference for women. "It can help women gain confidence," the 57-year-old added.
The world of motorsport is actually familiar for women in Saudi: in fact, they have their own champion. Following the lift of the driving women for women in Saudi, Reema Juffalli shocked the world when she became the Kingdom’s first ever female racer in October 2018
“With Formula E and the Saudi Dakar Rally it’s amazing to see what is happening with motorsport and the opportunities that are opening up for Saudi drivers, especially girls,” she told Arab News in November 2019.
Juffalli always looks forward to connecting with other women race drivers. “Having other people to look up to, especially for me at a younger age, would have been amazing,” she added. It’s successful events like Dakar 2020 that make the dream of becoming a female car racer more tangible for Saudi women.