Areas of Impact


Adults and adolescents who participate in our Community Empowerment Program (CEP) learn that education is a human right.



Limited access to education, especially for women and girls, presents a serious obstacle to community well-being and development in many parts of rural Africa.

Through our holistic, empowering education model —the Community Empowerment Program, adults and adolescents with little or no experience with schooling learn about their human right to education. Empowered to develop a vision for their community’s development, dialogue is generated on the importance of education for women and girls and how their participation is integral to community success. Using this foundation, Tostan teaches community members skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, literacy, and numeracy.


Our partner communities make health, hygiene, and disease prevention a priority in their communities.



Harmful practices, limited access to health resources and care, and lack of awareness about hygiene put communities’ health at risk, particularly for girls and women.

During our Community Empowerment Program (CEP), participants learn about their human right to health. They also build their understanding of how germs spread, disease prevention, the importance of maintaining a clean environment, and harmful health consequences of practices such as female genital cutting (FGC) and child marriage.


Communities lead initiatives that promote sustainable solutions to environmental issues.



Many communities in Africa are faced with serious environmental challenges including poor water and waste management, soil erosion, increasing desertification, and diseases caused by poor public hygiene.

Our partner communities often lack basic sanitation facilities, creating a physical environment which puts community health at risk.

Our Community Empowerment Program (CEP) equips community members with the knowledge and skills to find creative, sustainable solutions to the environmental issues in their communities.


As part of our program, Community Management Committees establish and promote grassroots democratic structures within their communities.



Governance procedures and processes are often absent from the communities in which we work. This includes activities such as systematic birth registration, voter registration and the active participation of women and youth in decision-making. Participants in our program learn about the fundamental elements of democracy, their human rights, and the responsibilities associated with defending and respecting those rights.

Economic Growth

Participants in our Community Empowerment Program (CEP) develop the skills needed to manage projects and run small businesses.



Although many African economies have experienced rapid growth over the past few years, unemployment remains high and economic opportunities in rural areas are still limited, especially for women.

Our Community Empowerment Program helps participants develop the practical skills needed to manage projects and run small businesses.

We also aim to jumpstart community entrepreneurship with Community Development Grants, distributed through the Community Management Committee.

Intersecting Issues

Tostan’s program not only addresses the above areas, but a range of vital intersecting issues.


Tostan’s empowering education model directly addresses:

Child Protection
Early Childhood Development
Ending Female Genital Cutting
Women and Girls’ Empowerment

Our Community Empowerment Program (CEP) aims to address each of these issues by building a foundation for positive social change through knowledge of human rights.