Script: Women at the Top

Maghrebia: How did you decide to write Local Prism?

Loubna Hanna Skalli: The idea came from several developments and observations. The first was Morocco’s changing media landscape in the mid-1990s. Before I left for the United States to start my Ph.D., I noticed new press freedom in Morocco.
There seemed to be a new era of journalism resulting in new Moroccan women’s publications addressing topics with freedom and audacity.
This relates to another point: the impact of globalization on local cultures and gender roles. In the mid-to late 1990s, “globalization” was a buzzword. There was and still is a fear of losing local traditions to global influence.

Maghrebia: Whom does your book target?

Loubna Hanna Skalli: It’s for people interested in the gender and cultural dimensions of globalization. It addresses the production and consumption of women’s magazines and analyses the context in which they emerged, including changes in Morocco since the mid-1980s. The book explains the evolution of Moroccan women’s journalism and compares women’s magazines.

Marghrebia: Moroccan women’s magazines are criticised for being elitist and focusing on urban issues. How did you reach rural women since your research focused on those magazines?

Loubna Hanna Skalli: Magazines, where female illiteracy is high, cannot be anything elitist. This doesn’t mean we should ignore what the elite are reading and producing.
Magazines use in Morocco is interesting. While illiteracy prevents many women from reading the magazines, they still look at images. Women use the magazine’s pictures as resources for dressmaking. Mant can neither read nor buy the magazines. Instead, they borrow copies and have friends explain the stories.

Maghrebia: You’ve noticed a gender dimension in Moroccan poverty. What is it?

Loubna Hanna Skalli: Poverty is experienced differently by both sexes. It is not just about income. Poverty has multidimensional levels. There is poverty of resources and opportunities. There are laws that do not protect women, and poverty that results from their lack of education, employment, and health services.
Morocco is on the right track. For example, Morocco’s Moudawana, girls’ education and training programmes are laudable. Women’s increased political participation is putting women’s issues on the national agenda. But the challenge is daunting. The situation of rural women is still precarious because of marginalization.

Maghrebia: Why don’t you tell us about your American journey?

Loubna Hanna Skalli: I came to the United States after 15 years of teaching in Morocco. I wanted to gain skills to take back to Morocco. I did my Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University, where I met my husband. I then returned to teaching in Morocco because my Fulbright scholarship required I serve my country for two years. In 2003, I joined my husband in Washington and started teaching at the American University’s School of International Service. I now have two-year-old twins boys, Adam and Zachary. I spend my days balancing my personal and professional life.

www.maghrebia.com (Novemeber 2006)

 landscape: a large area of countryside, especially in relation to its appearance.


  era: a period of time of which particular events or stages of development are typical.

  buzzword: a word or expression from a particular subject area that has become fashionable by being used a lot, especially on television and in the newspapers.

 consumption: the amount used or eaten.

 emerge: to appear by coming out of something or out from behind something.

 elitist: organized for the good of a few people who have special interests or abilities.

 elite: the richest, most powerful, best-educated, or best-trained group in a society.

 laudable: (of actions and behaviour) deserving praise, even if there is little or no success.

 daunting: making you feel slightly frightened or worried about your ability to achieve something. (synonym: intimidating)

 precarious: in a dangerous state because of not being safe or not being held in place firmly.

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