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 growth and development in many parts of rural Africa.

Through our holistic, non-formal education 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.




people, mostly women, have improved their reading skills thanks to our innovative training on mobile phones


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/forced marriage.



people live in communities that have publicly declared an end to female genital cutting


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.



community cleanups days held in 2013


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.



people have learned about democracy and how to make decision-making equitable

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.



villages have established their own community funds that help save, invest, and grow

Intersecting Issues

During Tostan’s program, several key issues related to gender and social norms emerg, spanning the five impact areas.

Several key issues where we have seen excellent results from our program, span across our five main areas of impact including:

Female Genital Cutting,
Child Protection,
Early Childhood Development,
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.