In a community, values may exist that are oppressive to certain groups and people, isolating and restricting groups from engaging fully with the community. In turn, active community members may question these values and work towards reformation in order to achieve social justice. They do so not by imposing new values, which might be seen as something foreign and threatening to the traditional way of life. Instead, they communicate and work with the community to achieve effective social change that is organic and natural to their context.

Hiyam Alyan is the executive Director of Al Saraya Centre, a community centre in the Old City of Jerusalem. She works with communities struggling under military occupation who live in very constrained spaces and lack economic and social opportunity. In this video, she describes how they overcame gender dynamics with the community members together.


In your e-Portfolio, answer the following questions:

  • What is the role of gender in your community? What other values and factors are present in your community that you feel are oppressive to certain groups in society?  
  • What is a value that you aim to change with your initiative? How do you think this value came about
  • What role does it play in the community and why is it still upheld?
  • What are its connections to tradition and the culture, and how can you challenge it without posing a risk of changing the community’s identity?