Aziza Yousef drives a car on a highway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2014 as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia's ban on female drivers. (Hasan Jamali/AP/file)

In 1990, Madeha al-Ajroush and 46 other women did something revolutionary. They dismissed their drivers and got behind the wheels of cars in downtown Riyadh. "We just drove the car," she told NPR years later. "It was exhilarating. It was great."

For their rebellion, the women were fired from their jobs and denounced in local newspapers. They were banned from traveling outside the country.

But today, Ajroush took to Twitter to celebrate. Because after several more protests and worldwide condemnation, Saudi Arabia announced that women will be allowed to drive, starting next year. According to an announcement from King Salman, women will be allowed to apply for drivers' licenses immediately, and the ban will be fully lifted by next summer.

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world with a ban on female drivers. The country's Muslim leaders defended the ban as religiously motivated, but it's been ridiculed and derided around the world.

Other activists who took part in the protests celebrated the announcement by tweeting out a list of the women who defied the government rule against women behind the wheel.

Manal al-Sharif was caught driving in May 2011. She spent nine days in prison. "As a result of my protest, I was threatened — imams wanted me to be publicly lashed — and monitored and harassed," Sharif wrote in a first-person account in the New York Times. On Tuesday, she wrote on Twitter, "Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop."

Loujain al-Hathloul, detained for 73 days in 2014 after attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates, was more concise. "Praise be to God," she wrote on the social media platform.

On Twitter, others celebrated with GIFs.

Others passed around a video that showed a Saudi woman navigating challenging circumstances. In the old video, a woman in an SUV maneuvers in and out of a tight spot. A driving instructor directs from the outside.

Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth tweeted that Saudi Arabia has a long way to go before women and men are treated equally. "Saudi Arabia finally lets women drive," he wrote. "Now revoke guardianship laws and stop treating women like children."

Samah Hadid, deputy Middle East director for Amnesty International, offered congratulations to the women who fought for the change. "May this be the start of more freedoms for women in Saudi Arabia," she wrote.

Sudarsan Raghavan and Kareem Fahim contributed to this report.