What is supposed to be a celebratory time for women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia has become another opportunity to advocate for further gender equality in the country.

As the right to drive in one of the world's most conservative countries becomes reality later this month, female activists continue to be arrested for their support of gender parity. 

Here's a history of Saudi women's rights and the proposed changes underway in this strictly religious country. 

Significant moments in history:

The Saudi government has tight control over women's rights and freedoms. Under the strict interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism, women have limited agency over their decisions to move, dress and work. It takes years, even decades in some cases, to reverse these laws. 

Schools: Girls were not allowed to attend school until 1955 and the first university for women did not open until 1970. Male and female students are still separated in different schools, and are only taught by members of their own gender. 

Politics: Nora al-Faiz became the highest female government representative in 2009 when she was elected as deputy education minister for women's affairs. It would be another four years before women were allowed to serve on the Shura Council, which serves as an advisory group to the king. The country was also the latest to give women the right to vote in 2011 and to run for local office in 2015. 

Right to drive: The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced in September 2017 that women would be allowed to drive starting on June 24. Ten women were issued the first round of licenses on June 4. 

A long battle in the fight to drive:

Protests against the driving ban date back to 1990, and grassroots campaigns have since popped up in the national fight for the right to drive. A campaign led by Manal al-Sharif called #Women2Drive started in 2011. 

While women lack autonomy over many aspects of their lives, the right to drive is one of the most pronounced movements in the country. Saudi Arabia is the only country that still denies women the ability to drive. 

The crown prince said he wants women to help the economy, and has begun lifting bans against women participating in the workforce. But women would need more freedom of movement to get to work, a rationale that prompted the ban's lifting. 

Arrests: More than a dozen women have been detained by Saudi authorities.

"They are behind bars and they should be behind the wheel," Amnesty International's Samah Hadid said in an interview with USA TODAY.

International support for the detainees came pouring in after the news went viral. Human rights advocates say the act is a "smear campaign" by the government to dispel any hope for progressive changes. 

"The message is don’t get any ideas. You don’t actually have any rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch. 

Whitson said jailing activists is an act by the Crown Prince to quash dissent in Saudi Arabia and that human rights decisions are his to make alone. She explained that imprisoning those most vocal about Saudi women's rights is a tactic to silence and threaten anyone who wants equality.

"I, the crown prince get to decide, I gift you rights. You may not demand them," Whitson said.

Prince's reforms:

The crown prince is known for promises make changes in the country, something that the right to drive initiative seemed to prove. 

In addition to allowing women to drive and wanting to include them in the workforce, The Washington Post reported that the crown prince wants to curb extremism in his country and appeal to both the religious conservatives and social liberals. The prince even lifted a decades-long ban on Saudi movie theaters. 

But human rights advocates like Hadid said these changes aren't enough. Without action that supports women's liberation, the promises act as just a mirage for the Saudi people.

What women still can't do:

There's still great disparity between men and women in Saudi Arabia. 

Women are expected and encouraged to wear the traditional abaya, a long black robe that covers most of a woman's skin. 

Without a husband or a male guardian, women have little agency over everyday decisions. They are not allowed to travel, open a bank account, apply for a passport, achieve an education, work, get married or go abroad without permission by a close male relative. 

Women and men are also still largely separated from each other. They do not attend the same schools or work in the same spaces. It is against Wahhabism for men and women to be in close proximity to one another if they are not related. 

Whitson said that although the right to drive is an important step forward in achieving equality for women in Saudi Arabia, there is still much work to be done in ridding the country of guardianship laws.

"Driving is the least of it," she said. "It's a small and important step in these onerous and discriminatory practices against women."