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Change Should Come From Within

I invited two friends to join a coexistence class with me. It’s for women in the Jewish and Arab sectors in Israel, and is based on learning the techniques of photography. They liked the idea but said they wanted to ask their husbands. “Ask?!!” I exclaimed. “Just tell them you’re taking it!”

The next day they told me the answer is no. One husband would not even leave the door open for discussion, and the other one grinned, and asked, “Why? And what about the kids?” and turned back to the television.

Frustrated, but not wanting to be the cause of a problem between husbands and wives, I dropped the subject.

I live with about 40,000 other people in an Arab city in Israel. The town changed rather quickly from being a village to a city, yet it remains a conservative society guided by tradition and religion. Few signs of village life remain. There are many educated men and women, beautiful homes, expensive cars, nargilla/coffee shops (traditionally for men), and many stores, yet few forms of entertainment, especially for women.

My friends do not work. They complain about boredom and the lack of opportunities in the city.

What disturbed me is that my friends are strong women. So why did they let their husbands make that decision for them?

This article does not allow me to discuss in detail the barriers but I believe they are:

POLITICAL - The Arab towns in Israel suffer from discrimination in many forms. The government does not allot as much money to the Arab sector as it does to the Jewish sector, resulting in a lack of facilities and proper services.

SOCIAL - In this close-knit society, no one is spared from curious eyes, and nosy questions. People’s actions are controlled by one question: “What will the neighbors/ the in-laws/ my parents, etc say?”

WOMEN – Sometimes women are their own worst enemies. Could it be that fear of being different stops us from growing? Why do we complain and allow others to control us? Shouldn’t we take the initiative and provide for ourselves?

Political and social barriers are harder to change. So why can’t we start with the easier barrier: women? Women should search for the beauty within themselves by learning and daring to be different.

My friend (mentioned above) - with her husband’s encouragement - and I decided to open a “club” for women. Our goal is to combat boredom by beginning the change slowly by teaching "fun" classes which can open doors for unemployed women. We will begin very small - starting with lessons in soap making, and then move on to other types of classes. We can sell the products and distribute a portion of the money to the Palestinian refugees.

Pulsewire offers many ideas from women who have overcome similar situations. Maybe my ideas will help someone. I might also be to obtain financial aid to help me fund the club.

I believe change should start from within.


IvanaG's picture


Dear Noreen,

I love this: "I believe change should start from within". That's so true! If you don't change yourself, you can't expect everyone around you to change. I liked your post very much and I share many similar thoughts with you. My society is similar to yours or should I say was, but fortunately I have witnessed lot of changes for the better recently. You're on the best path to cause a change and simply by voicing out and talking to your friends you're making a difference. I was doing the same in my small conservative hometown and I was considered "eccentric"; but that eccentricity is now something usual. Keep going like this and I have to say I am proud to have you as a friend here in PulseWire!



noreens's picture

Hi Ivana, Happy to have you

Hi Ivana,

Happy to have you as a friend too! Yesterday I got 4 kilos of sheep fat from the store to begin the soap making process. I am a vegetarian and so I do find it disgusting --- but it makes a lathery soap. The guy who gave it to me asked what I am going to do with it, and he gave me a strange look when I told him!! He did ask for some soap though. My husband also gave me a strange look when he saw what I was doing. But that is okay - I like being different (or eccentric as you say).

Take care!

It is just like that saying 'charity begins at home.' A change is never a change if it does not come within us first. Reading your lines, a woman can be her worst enemy, I could not agree more with you. The women need to feel that they are the source, they are the only ones that can bring a change in their current situation, and no one from outside can help them unless they themselves realize that they need to fight to see a difference.
Keep up the good work!

Iffat Gill

noreens's picture

Hi Rose, I think that women

Hi Rose,

I think that women are much stronger then they are given credit for. I think we should use that strength to our advantage. We are so capable of doing such great things. Thanks for reading my article!


Eliana's picture

Dear noreen, Thank you for

Dear noreen,
Thank you for your journal entry and the discription of the reality that surrounds you. I am always curious to read what you write because I always feel your writing an enrichment and an inspiration.
I fully agree with you that the political and social barriers are the most difficult to eradicate and that a start should be done by women and teaching fun classes is really a wonderful and enlighting idea. I hope that the project will succeed and that women will participate in numbers.
In Italy the reality you described about the people thinking about what the in-laws, parents, family, etc think is also quite wide-spread and that a woman has to ask permission to the husband to attend a course or to do something for herself is quite frequent too. Where I come from is a little village where everybody knows each other and talks a lot. It was rather difficult for my family and myself being different because I was always reminded of my difference, even if it was not at all estetically evident but it was only a matter of language: I grew up as German and Italian speaker instead of only German. The gap of difference grows with the years and you still remain the stranger. I don't care because I am strong enough now, to know who I am and what my abilities are, but this took me some time and a lot of work on myself, too.
Now, the story continues with my son having an Arab name and surname because his father is Tunisian. And I realized that for him it is much more difficult to find his own way: he always struggles for acceptance among his friends and in society. He does not want to be seen as different. At that age he does not yet understand that what he defines difference is an enrichment and should be lived and appreciated as such.
Thank you for your post
Peace to you


noreens's picture

Hi Eliana, With each message,

Hi Eliana,
With each message, I am realizing that we have more and more in common. So you can relate to a lot of what I wrote. I'll send you a message in the next couple of days.

I'm glad that you liked my article. I haven't yet read the assignment 3 articles but I will definitely read yours.

Thank you, my friend!

Eliana's picture

Hello Noreen, Thank you for

Hello Noreen,
Thank you for your reply. I always appreciate your comment and to interact with you. Yesterday I started my first lesson in facilitation and it was very helpful: a) my connection due to overload was so slow that I initially had to rely on tech assistance. After 15 minutes I managed to enter the virtual classroom. b) I was virtually deaf and mute (I couldn't hear the others speaking and they could not hear me either) c) I participated in typing and the others joined in.
It was not a brilliant start but I managed to do and that's what matters: taking things as they come and doing the best out of them. It is a very interesting group: women and men nearly equal number and participants from Afghanistan, USA, Egypt, Morocco. So it's quite a lively exchange.
I hope your classes in journalism are going on well and you still enjoy yourself and the experience. I find your idea very interesting and would be interested in hearning from you more about it.
I am always pleased to see and realize how much in common we have and that is fascinating. I am always thankful and glad that we both found Worldpulse and found the way to get to know each other.
Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and the opportunity to share and exchange experiences.
Have a nice week-end and I hope your son in Romania is doing fine, too and of course all of your family
Peace to all of you


William62's picture

Change HAS TO Come From Within

Good post and horrible story that unfortunately we are listening to altogether too often. Web 2.0 is certainly a platform that needs to be utilized better to help overcome the challenges confronting you.

The best I can offer is the reality that you have millions of people around the world to support the efforts of bringing a peaceful future to your region. But the bottom line is compromise must come from the people.

I can recommend the United States Institute of Peace (USIP - ), as it has lots of resources to help you develop a strong toolkit for working for a peaceful future.

Keep up your efforts building a network of like-minded people.

noreens's picture

thank you

Hi William,

I appreciate your comments! Hopefully one day peace will come to this area but it's going to take time. I took a quick look at the website you recommended - it is now in my taskbar and I will look at it more closely.



Khushbu's picture

Love it!

Dear Noreens

This is such an amazing post. You keep proving the great potentials you have. I love your writing, and admire your work. Thank you for not keeping quiet over the discrimination that women face in your community.

It was wonderful listening to you this week!

Much love

Khushbu Agrawal

noreens's picture

Thanks Khushbu! It gives me

Thanks Khushbu! It gives me such a good feeling to get such positive feedback on my stories. I love to write and knowing that what I write makes some sort of impact, gives me so much encouragement!

Thanks for your words!
Have a nice weekend!

Laura in Portland's picture

Well said

Dear Noreen,

I really enjoyed reading your essay on beginning to change some of the barriers you and other women face in your community. I think your idea for a women's center and classes is an excellent one and will probably be very successful. I have a friend in the peace corps who recently began offering exercise and yoga classes for women and girls in Turkmenistan. She's had a lot of success helping women feel stronger not only physically, but psychologically as well. I hope you'll have the chance to enjoy similar success with your own project.

Best of luck,

noreens's picture

Thanks Laura, I hope it will

Thanks Laura,
I hope it will work too. I think something like that has to start very slow and small. I know people (not in my community) who give classes in their homes, and they are successful. There are so many things that can be done, but the people also need to help themselves. People need to stop complaining about lack of opportunities, and take advantage of what there is..........or make their own opportunities, which is the way I have survived here. Sometimes it's easier to complain!

My very good childhood friend, who now lives in Oregon, served in the Peace Corp also. I hope when my kids are done with school that I can do something like that. Till that time comes, there is plenty to do here!

Have a good weekend!

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