What’s at Stake

Women and girls make up half the world’s population. Yet, they often have less access to education, health, and economy as well as less opportunity to voice their opinions and take an active role in decision-making processes. Without tapping into the incredible potential women and girls offer, communities limit their ability to grow and progress.

What we are doing

Women and girls make up more than half of our Community Empowerment Program (CEP) participants. During our program, women develop leadership skills, engage in dialogue, and demonstrate their ability to make important decisions for themselves and their families, showing how important they are to their community’s development.

We also work to engage men and boys in the CEP, encouraging them to participate in discussions about human rights. Men and women work together to promote equality and develop new social norms around respecting the human rights and dignity of women and girls and men and boys.

We encourage women to take on leadership roles in their communities. In every Community Management Committee (CMCs), at least nine of the 17 members are women.

Our Success

Women who have participated in our program emerge as community leaders, human rights activists, and role models, showing young girls and boys alike that women can succeed in leadership roles and work with men as equals. Their example helps reshape gender norms and empower women by increasing their standing within the community.

In Senegal, over 80 percent of the Tostan trained CMCs are coordinated by women. With this leadership experience, they are able to take on roles in local councils and regional federations or associations.

As women and girls participate in our program, they are empowered to make important decisions about health, hygiene, education, and finances for themselves and their families. We have seen them become actively engaged in fostering positive social change; they run small businesses and earn money for their families; they organize campaigns for increased access to maternal and child healthcare; and they emerge as regional leaders in protecting human rights.

Read Evaluations of Tostan’s work promoting the empowerment of women and girls.