There is no doubt that women in the Arab world face a slew of societal and legislative challenges, but it seems as though we are on the right track in our fight for gender equality. 

More and more Arab women have taken it upon themselves to stand up for their rights, sometimes even risking their own lives to do so.

Thanks to their efforts, we have seen several victories in the women's rights movement in the region.

This year alone, the Arab world witnessed a number of pro-women changes, especially in the conservative Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Here are some of the accomplishments Arab women's rights activists have achieved in 2017:

1. Saudi Arabia lifted the decades-old ban on women driving

Perhaps one of the highlights of the year, Saudi Arabia announced late in September that it will finally allow women to drive starting June 2018.

The long-overdue decision followed multiple campaigns led by female Saudi activists, such as Manal Al-Sharif, Loujain Al-Hathloul, Wajeha Al-Huwaider, and Maysaa Al-Amoudi.

Among others, these women organized protests against the ban and personally defied it by attempting to drive in the kingdom, leading to their temporary arrest.

2. Saudi women made their way into the sports world

Saudi authorities have made several changes that loosen the restrictions on women practicing sports in public. 

In the past month, the kingdom has hosted its first-ever football and basketball tournaments.

In February, the General Authority of Sports announced plans to start granting licenses to women's gyms and open female-only fitness centers in every district. 

This came after a long history of female sports facilities being denied licenses or shut down.

In July, Minister of Education Ahmad Al-Issa issued a decree that introduced an all-new physical education program for girls' schools.

Additionally, the Saudi General Sports Authority announced in October it will allow women to attend sporting events in stadiums starting next year.

3. Tunisia passed a "landmark" law to end all violence against women

Tunisia is considered a pioneer of women's rights in the Arab world, and in July 2017, it passed a law that endorses that title.

The country's parliament passed a bill that protects women from violence in what the Human Rights Watch (HRW) described at the time as a "landmark step for women's rights."

The new law, which is expected to come into effect next year, introduces new criminal provisions and increases penalties for various forms of violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women.

The law recognizes "physical, moral and sexual violence" and includes the necessary measures women need in order to seek protection from acts of violence. 

Additionally, under the new law, rapists are no longer allowed to escape punishment if they marry their victim.

4. Tunisia also decided to allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men

In September, the Muslim-majority state decided to lift a decades-old ban that had prohibited Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men without the latter converting to Islam.

"All articles pertaining to the ban on Tunisian women from marrying non-Muslims have been revoked. In clearer terms, [the ban includes] the 1973 decree and all similar texts," presidency spokeswoman Saida Garrach wrote on Facebook at the time.

"Congratulations to the women of Tunisia for the consecration of the right to freely choose one's spouse," she added.

While the move was endorsed by Tunisian President Beji Caed Essibsi, it drew heavy criticism from Muslim clerics. 

5. Lebanon abolished its controversial rape law

After years of continuous efforts, activists in Lebanon succeeded in pressuring lawmakers to abolish a controversial article that dismissed rape charges if a rapist marries his victim. 

In August, Lebanon's Parliament repealed Article 522 of the Lebanese penal code, which allowed rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims.

The fight to abolish the law had been ongoing for years and had been championed by ABAAD, a MENA based non-profit organization. 

While the move is hailed as a victory for the women's rights movement, some say article 522 has only been "partially abolished."

KAFA, a women's rights organization in Beirut described the latest developments as a "partial victory". 

"[The article's] effect continues under article 505, which involves sex with a minor who is 15 years of age, as it does through article 518, which concerns the seduction of a minor with the promise of marriage," the women's rights organization said in a Facebook post.

6. Jordan appointed its first-ever female Supreme Court judge

Jordanian Judge Ihsan Zuhdi Barakat broke the glass ceiling this September as the first-ever female judge in the kingdom's Supreme Court.

Barakat was promoted from the Amman Court of Appeal to the Supreme court, becoming the first Jordanian woman to ever reach the highest position in the judiciary.

According to Jordan Times, Barakat has already made huge strides as a woman in the field of law, as she was the first woman in the kingdom to serve as Amman's attorney general, the first to chair the West Amman Court, and the first to be appointed as an inspector at the Judicial Inspections Directorate.

Born in 1964, Barakat studied law at the University of Jordan, going on to work as a lawyer for 15 years before joining the judiciary.

7. Arab women fearlessly shared their intimate sexual harassment stories

Victims of sexual harassment are often hushed and discouraged from speaking up, but that did not faze the many Arab women who took part in the #MeToo campaign.

The worldwide campaign was led by American actress Alyssa Milano, who asked women to share their own sexual harassment stories in an attempt to "give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem." 

This came in response to the controversy surrounding American Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexually abusing countless actresses.

Arab women took part in the campaign and reminded the world that sexual harassment knows no age, no limits, and no dress code.