Glamour brokers Afghan meeting of two cultures

Glamour: first women’s title to visit Kabul

Glamour claims to be the first women’s magazine to send a reporter into Afghanistan, with a piece in the latest issue on the launch of the Kabul-based newspaper Women’s Mirror.

The move is a direct bid by Glamour editor Jo Elvin to reflect a shift in tone to prove it does have a "serious arm".

The five-page article is written by freelance Rose George, who visited the newspaper’s offices in Kabul, accompanied by photographer Karen Robinson.

Elvin said the feature took six months to organise, trying to negotiate visas and UN flights to coincide with Glamour deadlines. But the initial idea sprang from an editors’ meeting at 10 Downing Street last November. "We had been discussing a feature with No. 10 and were dilly-dallying on how to make it newsworthy," she told Press Gazette. "We are finding that September 11 was a bit of a key moment. It is very difficult to know as a magazine how to do that without losing upbeat aims. This was perfect.

"At first it was a great message that things were on the mend but it is also really interesting that women are at the forefront of shaping the Government."

"We are the first women’s magazine to go there, which is quite exciting and unexpected. We want to have a slightly more serious arm and a really good wide ranging mix of features."

The feature also includes an interview with editor Shukria Barekzai Dawi, who set up Women’s Mirror in January, and her shocked response on seeing Glamour’s offices during a visit to London earlier this year.

Dawi, a 32-year-old journalist and activist, is quoted in the piece as saying: "So many people! And you have men working on a women’s magazine? And a woman is in charge?"

Her four-page newspaper carries the strapline "Independent and impartial" and is run with five staff journalists. Dawi obtained a computer, scanner and printer from the British Embassy and staff have had to endure frequent power problems due to the unreliable electricity supply. "There are articles that are too hot for some people, especially the Government. But I don’t care," she says.

The newspaper produces 3,000 copies and features opinion pieces, diaries and jokes such as "’How did you get the stains out of your carpet?’ asks a woman. ‘I used my husband,’ replies her friend."

 

Ruth Addicott

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