With the potential to leave an indelible mark on the future, razeup is dedicated to profiling transformative charities committed to making the world a better place. This time, we’ve cast the spotlight on Tostan—an international NGO making waves in Africa with its holistic approach to child protection.
In the regions where Tostan operates, threats to a child’s healthy development are a grave reality. Children are faced with a barrage of obstacles such as lack of access to education, child trafficking, child labor, child marriage, and female genital cutting (FGC). It’s a disturbing fact that when children’s human rights are not respected, it obstructs their growth into healthy, contributing adults in their community. Child marriage poses a particular threat, putting girls at a higher risk of early school dropouts, susceptibility to domestic violence, and health complications from early childbearing.
Tostan tackles these issues head-on through their innovative Community Empowerment Program (CEP) which includes a focused module on child protection. Key to their strategy are the Community Management Committees (CMCs) trained to challenge and transform the deep-seated social norms and practices that negatively impact children. Their advocacy for children’s rights and their tireless work in creating sustainable solutions for at-risk children has given communities the impetus to protect their youngest members.
But it doesn’t stop at the CMCs. They also establish Commissions for Child Protection (CCPs) that drive the community-wide efforts for children’s rights and challenge existing harmful social norms. These CCPs are the force on the ground, intervening directly in cases of child abuse while simultaneously leading larger community projects.
The effectiveness of Tostan’s initiatives is evident in the transformations sweeping across communities. Over 8,000 communities across Africa have publicly renounced the harmful practices of FGC and child marriage, underlining the strides Tostan has made in child protection. The changes are noticeable and inspirational – the living conditions of talibé children have drastically improved; there’s been a significant increase in the enrollment of girls in primary schools; infant and child nutrition have seen marked improvement; the number of birth registrations has increased; teenagers are being provided opportunities to act as community leaders; and the educational experience for children attending Koranic schools has significantly enhanced.
Tostan continues to champion for a better future for all children, embodying the change they wish to see in the world. Their continuous endeavors reflect the belief that change is possible, and every child, irrespective of their circumstances, deserves a chance at a healthy, fulfilling life. In the words of Molly Melching, Tostan’s founder, “We have seen what can happen when people get the chance to reflect, as a community, on their hopes and dreams for the future. They are the ones who will make it happen.”
Let Tostan’s journey inspire us all to be the agents of change the world needs.
To learn more about Tostan’s involvement with female gentical cutting (FGC), please click here.
To learn more about Tostan’s Community Empowerment PRogram (CEP), please click here.
To learn more about Tostan’s Community Management Committees, please click here.