For her commitment to women’s rights and equality and her bravery in protesting for these in Saudi Arabia, where a brutal regime engages in harsh crackdowns on human rights activists, our 2020 Millennial of the Year is Loujain al-Hathloul.
Loujain al-Hathloul openly protested Saudi Arabia’s ban on female drivers, posting videos of herself driving and attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates. This led to her initial arrest in 2014. She also protested Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, which placed heavy restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and actions. She has also spoken out on domestic violence. She attempted to run for office in 2015, the first time women were allowed to vote and stand for election, but she was excluded from the ballot.
She was arrested again in 2018. This was part of the regime’s crackdown on women’s rights activists, and she has described the torture, physical abuse, and sexual harassment she has received while detained. While the regime cracked down on activists, it reformed some of the very laws that these activists had challenged.
It took tremendous courage and sacrifice for Loujain Al-Hathloul to resist these unjust violations of universal human rights in Saudi Arabia and protest for greater equality for women. And she has never backed down. For her principles and persistence in the face of violence and oppression, she is our 2020 Millennial of the Year.