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Posts Tagged ‘Tostan’

Girl Summit: Highlights from Tostan, Girls Not Brides, and Camfed

July 23, 2014 by

Yesterday, the UK hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital cutting (FGC) and child, early and forced marriage within a generation. UNICEF co-hosted the event and said prevalence of child marriage is decreasing “slightly” but that population growth means the number of young brides could remain stagnant.

Skoll Awardees Girls Not Brides, Camfed and Tostan were featured in many of the news stories coming out of the Summit. Perhaps the biggest? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will start a major study on FGC female genital mutilation. Other news:

*Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Washington Post op-ed, which discussed how like-minded organizations are linking together across continents. “Joined by groups as varied as Uganda’s Amani Initiative and Indonesia’s child empowerment groups in the districts of Grobogan and Dompu, the work of what are popularly called “the wedding busters” is now being coordinated globally by Plan International and Girls Not Brides,” he wrote. read more


“However Long the Night” Out in Paperback; Twitter Chat May 7

May 2, 2014 by

Next week, Tostan founder Molly Melching’s biography, However Long the Night: One American Woman’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph, will be released in paperback.

To celebrate, we’re hosting a Twitter chat with Molly and author Aimee Molloy on May 7 at 10 a.m. PDT. The hashtag will be #HLTNchat — please also follow @skollfoundation @aimeenmolloy and @mollymelching.

The book is part of a partnership with the Skoll Foundation and publisher HarperOne. Molly, a 2010 Skoll Awardee, was named as one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World” by Newsweek/Daily Beast in 2012. Since 1974 she has worked to bring an innovative, basic education program to thousands of rural villages in Africa, empowering communities to lead their own development. Through the Tostan program, she has helped these villages address Female Genital Cutting (FGC)—a violation of human rights and a practice which up to three million girls are at risk of undergoing each year in Africa.

Melinda Gates and many others have applauded the book.

Check out the book’s Thunderclap page.


Melinda Gates Book Recommendation: However Long the Night

March 21, 2014 by

Two of our staffers are at TED and saw this in the bookstore. Melinda Gates recommends the book about Tostan’s Molly Melching called However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph.

She calls the work a model of “change driven from the middle out…”

Read the rest, above.


Communities in Mali publicly denounce female genital cutting

February 7, 2014 by

This week, communities in Mali publicly declared that they will no longer support the practice of female genital cutting and child marriage. Skoll Awardee, Tostan, has worked with these communities through its human rights-based program to support health and education for girls. The news was reported in the Washington Post and in an op-ed authored by Molly Melching, the Founder and Executive Director of Tostan.

Here’s an excerpt from the news story:

“Prior to making a public declaration, communities working with Tostan complete a three-year educational “empowerment program” emphasizing human rights. Tostan says the programs foster the type of “large-scale social change” that can spur communities to abandon a practice with deep traditional roots.

‘We know that perhaps there will still be people who may be resistant to this as always when something like this happens, especially in an urban center,” Melching said. “But we know that the people in our program and their relatives and their immediate neighbors … they have really decided to abandon the practice which is amazing.’”

Read the entire article and Molly Melching’s op-ed on the Skoll World Forum.


Molly Melching on Why Development Projects Fail—and Disempower—at the Community Level

October 31, 2013 by

Molly Melching just wrote an op-ed for the Skoll World Forum Online and called “To Change Society, First Change Minds.” An excerpt:

“After arriving in Senegal in 1974, I lived in a small village near Thiès for three years. It was here that I realized a lack of basic, life-saving information was causing so much unnecessary illness, tragedy and death: Two children in the village were lame from polio; ordinary wounds became infected and led to hospital stays; there were many cases of measles; a baby died from dehydration.

It was also here that I began to understand why development projects have often failed and why they have even disempowered people at the community level.

To try a different approach, I partnered with the Senegalese villagers to design and implement a basic education program in African languages, and in 1991, I set up a nonprofit organization,Tostan, to continue that work.

In this program, people who had never been to school were for the first time able to understand why vaccinations are important, how to treat wounds in the village and how to ensure simple diarrhea does not lead to dehydration and death.”

Read the rest: and learn more about Molly’s book at


Molly Melching on Dowser: Empathy Often Forgotten

September 3, 2013 by

In a new interview with “solutions journalism” site, Tostan founder Molly Melching talks about empathy, the impact her book has made, and the 340 more villages in Senegal she plans to reach.

An excerpt:

“Q: Hillary Rodham Clinton said that However Long the Night’s story is ‘proof that commitment can drive transformational change.’ How do you think Tostan is changing the way we approach development?

A: I feel that empathy is often forgotten in the world of development. People are outraged about what’s going on in the world – and with very good intentions, they translate their outrage into telling people, ‘This is wrong!’ or ‘Stop this immediately!’ But we are talking about systemic change, and that goes deeper than telling people what to do.

There are things that are difficult to accept. I have had to live through the sights and stories of little girls being cut, hemorrhaging, and dying. And you are outraged. But with outrage alone, you can maybe save one girl, possibly a few girls. You need strategy to reach a critical mass of people who can make this a thing of the past – quicker than we ever thought possible.”

Read more:


30 Malian communities publicly abandon female genital cutting and child/forced marriage

June 10, 2013 by

News from Tostan:

June 8th, 2013 was a historic day for 30 communities from the Koulikoro region in Mali. Many representatives from these Bambara communities – including women, men, young children and teenagers gathered in the village of Fégoun near the banks of the Niger river to publicly declare the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) and child/forced marriage in their communities. The declaration is the result of decisions made in each community that these practices were harmful to the general wellbeing of community members. Community members discussed the effects of these traditions using new information on health and human rights gained through Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP), with classes led in local languages from 2010 to 2013 in partnership with Project Muso Ladamunen and Sini Sanuman.

Traditionally, communities in Mali have been resistant to abandon these practices. The latest figures put the prevalence rate for FGC at 85.2% (DHS 2006) and for child/forced marriage at 71% (PRB May 2011) in the country. The recent confusion due to the 2012 coup d’état and war in the north have also complicated efforts by NGOs working on this and other long-term projects seeking sustainable change. read more


Tostan on PBS NewsHour

May 10, 2013 by

Last night, Tostan was featured on PBS NewsHour – both in an updated TV segment and in a brand-new online segment focusing on Tostan’s new book.

Above, watch what aired on TV and see Tostan’s work in Senegal firsthand.

Below, watch the bonus segment, which covers everything from how she started focusing on female genital cutting to her insights on how people modify their behaviors. An excerpt:

“She had no intention of broaching the sensitive and extremely taboo subject of genital cutting. That cause was championed by her Senegalese colleagues and friends, newly armed with health information and driven in at least one compelling case — a ‘cutter’ named Oureye — by her own guilt. Oureye is one of several strong characters in the book, written by New York-based journalist and author Aimee Molloy and published in a partnership between the Skoll Foundation (an underwriter of the NewsHour) and the HarperOne division of HarperCollins.”


Mother’s Day Inspiration from Skoll Awardees

May 8, 2013 by

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, so we thought it fitting to share parts of some awardee messages:

From Kiva:

There are nearly three billion adults worldwide who lack basic financial services, and most of them are women. Take Clenda from Litein Town in Kenya: she is a 24-year-old mother of two who has been in the farming business for over 6 years. Through one of Kiva’s partners, Juhudi Kilimo, Clenda received a $300 loan to purchase a dairy cow that allows her to sell milk in the local market. She uses the extra income to pay for her children’s education and help increase the overall quality of life for her family.

By lending as little as $25 on Kiva, anyone can help offer opportunity to women worldwide. This Mother’s Day, help spread the word about how, the world’s leading microlending platform, gives us all a chance to make a big difference for women, families and communities. Thank the nurturers in your life by giving them a Kiva Card — $25 to lend to any borrower they choose — to help individuals around the world realize their potential. Visit

From mothers2mothers (video above):

With our double your mommy campaign, you can tell your mother or an important woman in your life how special she is by making a donation to mothers2mothers in her name that will have twice the impact!  Every donation we receive for U.S. Mother’s Day will be doubled with a matching gift by an anonymous donor up to a total of $25,000.   In acknowledgement, we will send her a Mother’s Day e-card with a special video message from some of the inspiring mothers we work with or a card by mail.  It’s easy to double your mommy here. read more


Molly Melching’s U.S. Book Tour Dates

April 18, 2013 by

On April 30, a new book However Long the Night — Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph is being released by HarperOne and the Skoll Foundation. Melching will be in Washington, D.C., New York, and the San Francisco Bay Area starting April 29 — scroll down for dates and locations. Endorsed by Hillary Clinton, this compelling book by acclaimed author Aimee Molloy tells the unlikely and inspiring story of Molly Melching, an American woman whose experience as an exchange student in Senegal led her to found the international nonprofit Tostan and dedicate almost four decades of her life to the women and girls of Africa. This moving biography tells of Melching’s beginnings at the University of Dakar and follows her journey of nearly 40 years in Africa, where she became a social entrepreneur and one of humanity’s strongest voices for the rights of women and girls. More than a biography, However Long the Night is a book about social transformation and women’s empowerment. It shows how education and knowledge of human rights can create generational change and ignite large-scale social progress. View the short book trailer above.

And see Melching in person:

Monday, April 29, 12:00pm

Women’s Foreign Policy Group Luncheon

1615 M St, NW, Suite 210

Washington, DC 20036

Book tickets

Tuesday, April 30, 7:30pm

Book Lecture and Signing by Molly Melching at the Gala Hispanic Theater

– co-sponsored by Politics & Prose

3333 14th St NW

Washington, DC 20010

Book tickets


Thursday, May 2, 6:00pm

Book Talk and Signing by Molly Melching

United Nations Association of New York

Steelcase, Inc.

4 Columbus Circle

New York, NY 10019

Book tickets

Tuesday, May 7, 7:30pm
Book Talk and Signing by Molly Melching at Kepler’s Bookstore – Speaker’s Series
1010 El Camino
Menlo Park, CA  94025
More information

Wednesday, May 8, 7.30pm
Book Talk and Signing by Molly Melching as part of Berkeley Arts & Letters
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
Book tickets

Thursday, May 9, 6:30pm

Book Talk and Signing by Molly Melching

Stanford Women’s Alumni Group

Stanford University – Business School

Knight Minister Center

450 Serra Mall

Stanford, CA 94305

Book tickets

May 15, 2 p.m.
Reception and film screening
Blum Center for Developing Economies
The University of California, Berkeley
Invitation-only event to discuss Tostan, an organization globally recognized for transforming the lives of millions of women and girls across West Africa. To receive an invitation contact

International Women’s Day: Letters from our Awardees

March 8, 2013 by

Many Skoll awardees work with women and girls, so we thought we’d share some of their public letters and videos today, International Women’s Day. Above, you can see Tostan’s video from Women’s Day last year, and they will soon post their new one from today.

From Ann Cotton, Camfed:

“Government legislation in Malawi protects the right of child mothers to return to education. Nabena is now one of the 33 child mothers in the Chikhwawa District going back to school this year with Camfed’s support. We are working in a further 16 districts, guaranteeing all costs for these girls and thousands more through the duration of their secondary school education…On this International Women’s Day, let’s work together to ensure that girls do not carry the responsibilities of womanhood too soon, but grow up through a childhood filled with the educational opportunity that is the right of every child.” Read the rest: and read her post on Skoll World Forum:

Arzu posted this video:

Last, but not least, is Melinda Gates’ message on our very own Skoll World Forum site:


Molly Melching on the Power of Information, in the New York Times

February 8, 2013 by

Molly Melching and Tostan were recently part of  the New York Times’ Fixes column. An excerpt:

“When it comes to changing human behavior, Melching said that the force of law or even the threat of spirits still pales in comparison to the power of information.

She related how Tostan is now sharing the latest information about brain development with Senegalese parents, the kind of neuroscience that Americans and Europeans are used to hearing: the first 15 days of a baby’s life are critical for brain development, and speaking aloud to them goes a long way in language comprehension and formation later on. Melching said she and her colleagues spent hours getting new fathers, many of them respected leaders in the community, used to these practices. She laughed aloud recounting the image of these men, babies in their arms, awkwardly greeting their children: ‘Um, hello baby.’ read more


Entire Region of Southern Senegal Abandons Female Genital Cutting

February 5, 2013 by

Since tomorrow is the United Nations International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, held each Feb. 6 since 2003, we wanted to share some Tostan news with you.

On January 20, 2013 in Ziguinchor, a region of southern Senegal, there was a very large public declaration for the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) and child/forced marriage by 427 communities.  (See video above). This was the first-ever regional public declaration in Senegal. It is framed as part of the government plan toward Senegal-wide abandonment of FGC.

Today at 9:30 a.m. EST, Gannon Gillespie, Tostan’s Director of Strategic Development, was interviewed for Voice of America’s Health Chat.

Tomorrow, at 7:45 a.m.  EST, Skoll Awardee Molly Melching, Tostan’s Founder and Executive Director,  will participate in a Google+ Hangout to discuss progress. read more


Kimberly Tripp on How to Scale Impact

January 23, 2013 by

Skoll Foundation portfolio principal Kimberly Dasher Tripp shares her insights on how to scale impact in the Harvard Business Review. Here’s an excerpt:

“If you ask venture capitalists in Silicon Valley how they measure the success of business entrepreneurs, they would no doubt list off metrics having to do with fast growth: funding raised, people hired, customers acquired, revenue produced. The assumption is that company growth is good. But when it comes to social ventures, where the primary focus is impact (not profits), bigger isn’t necessarily better.

When organizations talk to my colleagues and me at the Skoll Foundation about growth in staff size, budget size, or client / beneficiary numbers, we often ask “So what?” In our view, those types of growth don’t necessarily translate to real and significant impact. Sure, size can often be correlated to maturity, but we want to know that the service, curriculum, or product the organization is offering has a significant impact on the problem it aims to solve. For us the question is not how do you grow organizations but how do you scale impact?”

Read the rest:



Tostan to use film and the ‘power of storytelling’ to encourage West African communities to tell their own stories of social change

January 17, 2013 by

17 January 2013, Dakar, Senegal: Tostan, an African-based NGO, has launched a new project to enable communities in West Africa to share their own vision of development, social change and peace-building through innovative filmmaking.   

Tostan was awarded a $20,000 grant by Stories of Change, a project of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund (DFP), supported by the Skoll Foundation for this project.

Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, which is funding Tostan’s Peace and Security Project, is also supporting the training program for Tostan staff and local filmmakers.

read more


Tostan News, Including Photos from Guinea-Bissau Declarations

December 27, 2012 by

In the last month, lots has happened in the world of female genital cutting, or FGC. A United Nations Committee has called for a ban on it.

144 communities in Guinea-Bissau publicly declared their abandonment of it. And we announced Molly Melching’s upcoming book, However Long the Night, which goes on sale in April 2013. In her Financial Times magazine piece, Sally Osberg talked about Melching’s work.

We wanted to share some of the most recent stories and photos from Tostan, on their coverage of the Guinea-Bissau declarations. An excerpt:  read more


Sally Osberg’s Op-Ed in the Financial Times’ “This is Africa” Magazine

December 26, 2012 by

“Social entrepreneurs see possibility where others see problems. They are unapologetically ambitious, setting their sights not just on incremental improvements but on systems-level transformation. And to achieve their audacious ends, social entrepreneurs enroll those most vested in that transformation — people oppressed, marginalised, or constrained by an existing reality.”

Those are Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg’s words in This is Africa, a new publication from the Financial Times that “seeks to examine African business and politics in a global context and to make sense of the relationships that Africa is building with the rest of the world.” read more


144 communities in Guinea-Bissau publicly declare their promotion of human rights, abandon female genital cutting

December 11, 2012 by

Tostan has big news to share: 144 communities in Guinea-Bissau will publicly declare their promotion of human rights, including abandoning female genital cutting and child marriage, and embracing all human rights and responsibilities.

The first declaration of 75 communities in the Cambajú, Bafata Region was yesterday. Here’s more from the Tostan blog:

“The curriculum of Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) begins with interactive sessions on democracy, human rights, and problem solving. These themes are the basis of the programand relate to later sessions on hygiene, health, literacy, math, and project management. By centering the program on human rights, participants are able to identify rights-affirming practices they wish to reinforce in their communities and harmful practices they wish to abandon. read more


HarperOne and the Skoll Foundation Announce a Partnership to Publish co-branded Stories of Social Change

October 22, 2012 by

First book in partnership, about the life and work of Molly Melching
and TOSTAN, to be published in April 2013

October 19, 2012; San Francisco, CA—HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, announces a partnership with the Skoll Foundation to publish co-branded narrative nonfiction books by Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneurs—91 entrepreneurs in 74 organizations globally, that have proven they can change the world.  HarperOne has been a leading publisher of books about personal and social change for 35 years, including more than 75 New York Times and national bestsellers in the last six years.

The books, by Skoll entrepreneurs in collaboration with leading writers, will tell dramatic first person stories about creating large-scale impact on the world’s most daunting problems. The debut title, However Long the NightOne American Woman’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph, tells the riveting tale of Molly Melching and her organization, Tostan. read more


Tostan Celebrates Day of the Girl Today – With a Story

October 11, 2012 by

Today we’re sharing a blog from Skoll awardee Tostan. Written by Lilli Loveday, Projects Assistant, The Gambia:

Through our work we have learned that as communities become empowered through human rights-based education, their ability to empower girls amplifies. In celebration of the first ever International Day of the Girl—11 October 2012—we are sharing the inspiring stories of five girls as they pursue their goals and build an empowered future for themselves and their communities in our blog series, Spotlight on Girls.

Now let’s turn the spotlight on Aja Drummeh from Bajon Koto, The Gambia.

Five-year-old Aja Drammeh lives in the Bajon Koto community in the Upper River Region (URR) of The Gambia. At an inter-village meeting held in her hometown at the end of August, Aja inspired the audience as she shared her remarkable knowledge of human rights, democracy, and issues related to health and hygiene. read more


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