Famous Speech Friday: Manal al-Sharif on The Drive to Freedom -
She's even more famous for a video of herself driving than she is for her speaking. Manal al-Sharif, a women's rights activist from Saudi Arabia, made waves in May 2011 when she recorded herself driving through the Saudi city of Khobar and posted the video on YouTube and Facebook. Viewed more than a million times in Saudi Arabia and around the world, the video also prompted her detention for nine days; she was released only after pressure from human rights groups, and only on condition that she post bail, come back for questioning on request, and refrain from driving or speaking to the media. Fortunately, that ban didn't extend to public speaking, and al-Sharif was able to follow her imprisonment with this speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum. For all that we westerners complain about women not getting on the program at conferences, we don't begin to face the limits placed on women in al-Sharif's country, where, as she says in the speech, "We were voiceless, we were faceless and we were... - Laura