Left in the Dust

Gretchen Cooper
Posted February 26, 2018 from United States
Naima and mom
Naima and mom (1/4)

My story goes back more than seven years. I was hired to drive for visiting Saudi Royals in my previous hometown of Rochester, MN. I was fired the next day being told "They don't want women drivers". I found out the only other women drivers also got fired on the same day for the same reason. We were female.

We contacted a non profit named Gender Justice in St. Paul, Minnesota and they agreed to represent the three of us. It took over seven years to navigate the justice system. We were awarded a judgement; each of us to receive $130,000. We hired a collection agent, however the Prince named passed away during the collection phase in July of 2017.

I became an online advocate in 2010 for overturning the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. I like to think our case and my advocacy helped this cause, even in a small way.

Congratulations ladies! The ban is set to be removed in June 2018!!

I am attempting to now crowdfund my legal judgement award. A percentage is donated to my local outreach center and food bank, both of which have helped me and my family immensely during a transitional period. La Puente of Alamosa helped pay my rent for almost a year while I got back on my feet and was able to finish my ebook. They were aware of my case and helped me a lot.

This is the final chapter of the Cooper vs Prince case. I am hopeful it has set a precedent and protects future women from facing blatant gender discrimination; especially those who are hired for Saudi Royal entourages.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to share or contribute to my Funded Justice account please click here:Funded Justice

Gretchen Cooper

This story was submitted in response to You Are a Silence Breaker.

Comments 44

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Olutosin
Feb 26, 2018
Feb 26, 2018

Wow Wow Wow this is glorious. I love the end of this story and thanks so much for sharing. It's very good to know your right, its better to stand for it and best when like minded people support you at that moment.

Gretchen Cooper
Feb 27, 2018
Feb 27, 2018

Thanks Sister! Thank you for reading

Jill Langhus
Feb 27, 2018
Feb 27, 2018

Hi Gretchen. Thanks for sharing your awesome story. I'm glad that you were compensated for your unfair dismissal and also to stop that from happening again. That's great that you were part of Saudi women being able to drive. Good job!

Gretchen Cooper
Feb 27, 2018
Feb 27, 2018

Thanks for positive words. They are good for my soul! 

Jill Langhus
Feb 27, 2018
Feb 27, 2018

You're very welcome:) Have a great day!!

Beth Lacey
Feb 28, 2018
Feb 28, 2018

Gretchen, you are truly a pioneer for women's rights!

Beth

Gretchen Cooper
Apr 16, 2018
Apr 16, 2018

Thank you!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Mar 10, 2018
Mar 10, 2018

Wow, how brave you are for upholding women's rights. You are a heroine! You name is now included in the history of women trailblazers!

Congratulations for the win! You are a gem, Gretchen!

Thank you for sharing your victory! Our victory!

Gretchen Cooper
Apr 16, 2018
Apr 16, 2018

Thank you!

Ndimofor Aretas
Apr 16, 2018
Apr 16, 2018

Dear Gretchen,
Your story is truly a success story!

What interests me most in it is your incredible determination to follow through to the end and your kind heartedness to donate part of the money to the outreach center.

I believe that it is for this reason that you won the case. If you had ulterior motives I don't think you would have made it. This story is a lesson to those who think women a less than men!

Gretchen Cooper
Apr 16, 2018
Apr 16, 2018

Thank you! It has been a long road. It's hard to sum up eight years. I appreciate your comment!

Tamarack Verrall
Apr 16, 2018
Apr 16, 2018

Hi Gretchen,

Such a great and supportive action that grew from your personal experience. The video is beautifully done. We will all celebrate this June when the law finally changes in Saudi Arabia. I hope the ban against being out without a male relative is also lifted.

Gretchen Cooper
Apr 16, 2018
Apr 16, 2018

I'm glad you liked the video and song. I also hope the male guardianship system is done away with. The hashtag #iammyownguardian is a good one to follow on Twitter. I also need to read Manal Al Sharif's book 'Daring to Drive." She calls herself an 'accidental activist'. I can relate!

Tamarack Verrall
Jul 28, 2018
Jul 28, 2018

Thanks for these suggestions!

erin_3
Apr 24, 2018
Apr 24, 2018

Gretchen: Your story of local and cross-continental activism is wonderful and inspiring. So often it is hard to think about what can be done in areas far from home, and supporting this huge change in Saudi Arabia with your online activism is a great example. Kudos!

Gretchen Cooper
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

I met Manal al Sharif in Minnesota and got to speak with her about our case. My daughter, Naima's photo was taken with her 'let my mommy drive' t-shirt and according to Manal it was a well known photo used in the women to drive campaign in Saudi.
She was shocked when she learned the girl in the photo was my daughter!
I have yet to read Manal's new book 'Daring to Drive', it's on my list!
Thanks for reading my story and responding!

erin_3
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

I love that a simple image - a photo from Minnesota, USA - spoke the 10,000 words needed to highlight personal solidarity among women everywhere, women's rights, support from women in other countries, and high expectations for the inclusion of women in every country. Very cool.

Gretchen Cooper
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

Erin! You said it perfectly. I actually took some flack for allowing my daughter's photo as a statement. The cool thing was and is...she knows exactly what happened to me and has been my biggest supporter. When I was fired, we didn't have any resources or other income. So, it really affected mother AND daughter. I feel I made the right choice to let her become an 'accidental activist' along side me.

Valéria Barbosa
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

Your son is right, let his mother drive and all the women who so desire. Congratulations for your work.

Gretchen Cooper
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

Who so desire to be free in movement, thought, speech, and attire. We salute you! HONK HONK!

Adanna
May 02, 2018
May 02, 2018

Dear Gretchen,

Well done!

Thank you for standing up, speaking up and encouraging a lot of women in Saudi Arabia and around the world.

Love,
Adanna

Gretchen Cooper
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

Thank you!

Ann Forsthoefel
May 02, 2018
May 02, 2018

Dear Gretchen,

You are a trail blazer and an inspiration to all of us.

Bright blessings,
Ann

Gretchen Cooper
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

Thanks Ann! Nice to see an American supporter.

soul on fire
May 17, 2018
May 17, 2018

thank you so much for sharing your amazing story
hats off to you

Gretchen Cooper
May 21, 2018
May 21, 2018

Thank you

Gretchen Cooper
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

Thanks! The ban was lifted on June 24th.

AGNES TUMASANG
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Love the fact that you stand for women, keep up

Gretchen Cooper
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

I am a mother to 5 daughters. It's my job. Thanks for comment!!

Tecenta Achiri
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

Wow I love the great move. Courage my dear sister

Gretchen Cooper
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

There are still detained activists. I hope they are released to enjoy the very freedoms they stood up for!

obioma nwachukwu
Jun 20, 2018
Jun 20, 2018

Gretchen, well done, your actions have really encouraged me. Thank God for people like you out there. I'm sure your people will ever live to remember you. Have they lifted the ban. Looking forward to hearing the good news and we shall celebrate together. keep it up.

Gretchen Cooper
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

The ban on driving was lifted 6-24-18. Still a long road, but it is now open for ladies. Congrats to Saudi women wanting to drive their way to their own destiny.

AGNES TUMASANG
Jun 30, 2018
Jun 30, 2018

Thank you very much for the fight for women

Gretchen Cooper
Jan 05
Jan 05

Thank you, Agnes!

Stephanie Mah
Jul 01, 2018
Jul 01, 2018

Hi sis thanks for sharing your nice story. It is good to know your right. Thank God for your achievement.

Gretchen Cooper
Jan 05
Jan 05

Stand Strong!

emma matondang
Oct 03, 2018
Oct 03, 2018

Hi Gretchen,
Oh My God, You are brave. Salute. As an Indonesian muslim, I have been very angry to what happened to women in Saudi Arabia where the holy place for muslim showing how bad men treated women there. which is definitely againts the holy qur'an. I was very happy when I knew the ban of this woman driver. Now even happier and very proud of you behind this woman driver's banned. I am now very happy and proud to meet you here finally. Ok. one done, let's fight for more numbers of other casess of women's right. It's not only in Saudi Arabia. It happens whole over the world. Including in my own family, from my dad to my sisters. We says There's a great woman behind a successfull man but there's a stress man behind a successful woman. This is happen in my family which we are 7 sisters and no brothers. Then you can imagine how I have to fight for my right againts culture and religion system that most men misunderstood. It's not the culture and the religion themselves were to blame, but it's the men the liers. If I have any words can represent my feeling of how happy and proud I am of you. I will say that to you. Now I would say I am more happy and more proud of you for what you have done for women. Congratulation. dear sister. Thank you.

Gretchen Cooper
Jan 05
Jan 05

For those who have gone before us and those who follow...we do what we can for the good of all. Thank you for sharing some of your insights!

Lily Habesha
Oct 08, 2018
Oct 08, 2018

This such a wonderful story.
Even if it takes years, justice have been served. This opens a way for you to stand for others, you should thank the people who fire you. Because, they initiated you to work harder and go beyond borders.

Lily

Gretchen Cooper
Jan 05
Jan 05

I have a daughter named Lily! Such beauty in a name. Thank you for taking the time to post your positive words for all

ARREY- ECHI
Oct 19, 2018
Oct 19, 2018

This is beautiful. I am glad you didn't sit quiet and let the table be but decided to shake it and let it tumble. Great strides.

Gretchen Cooper
Jan 05
Jan 05

Thank you, Arrey. I love the dress you are wearing in your profile pic! Big up~

ARREY- ECHI
Jan 07
Jan 07

Oh thank you, Gretchen <3