Thanks for the memories, Libya

September 7, 2010

I'm back in Sweet Home Chicago. And there weren't any yellow-ribbon prayer vigils to get me out of jail and the Red Cross didn't have to smuggle letters for me. I moved pretty freely in Tripoli. Reporting from Libya was a wonderful opportunity and I can't wait to complete and share the audio stories about women. The main thing I learned is that there was no traditional women's movement the way we might think of in America. When Col. Qaddafi took power, he decided under his socialist regime to make women equal. Even some of Qaddafi's critics give him credit for providing women equal protection under the law. Surprisingly, he's had female bodyguards since the 1970s. By no means do Libyan women speak for all Arab women. And, frankly, the women I interviewed only represent themselves. But I want my work in the country to give listeners a different perspective on Arab, Muslim women. Less of a Western fixation on this and this Saudi influence. My stories might be mundane to Libyan women, but in American media we rarely hear from Arab women. Perhaps there will be some greater understanding in the simple everyday life. Natalie traveled to Libya under a fellowship from the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College.

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