Saudi women's rights activist and author Manal al-Sharif is pictured at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 in Frankfurt am Main, central Germany, on October 11, 2017. AFP / Daniel ROLAND
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For Manal al-Sharif, the self-described "accidental activist" who spearheaded the campaign against the ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia, the time for women to be silent is over.With unflinching honesty, Sharif recounts the hardships she faced growing up in relative poverty in Saudi Arabia's holiest city Mecca and the struggles she encountered later on as a divorced single mum."In this book I was very open, I tried to break every single taboo that I could," Sharif said.Her top grades eventually led her to become the first female information security specialist at the Saudi national oil company Aramco, where women are allowed to drive within the firm's compound.The memoir ends before the ban is lifted, but Sharif is more than happy to update the epilogue.The decree comes into effect next June, and Sharif is already looking forward to getting in the driver's seat, legally this time.Men and women danced in the streets of Riyadh last month after they were allowed to celebrate the country's national day together for the first time, and Sharif excitedly talks about the prospect of women being allowed to study engineering soon.Sharif said with a smile.
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