WASHINGTON, DC October, 2009 – In a new study by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Innovation for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, Tostan’s community-led movement for the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) in Senegal was named as one of the eight most creative and catalytic innovations that have promoted women’s empowerment and gender equality in the past century.  Other innovations selected included the Oral Contraceptive Pill Movement in the US (1960s-80s) and Microfinance in India (1970s-2000s).
The aim of the study was to build on the creativity and effectiveness of the eight campaigns cited and, based on an analysis of their effectiveness, push forward seven core levers or elements essential for change, which include: breaking boundaries for strategic partnerships, engaging women in design and diffusion, cultivating champions, creating “buzz” to make it “stick” capitalizing on opportune timing and context, targeting efforts to reach poor women and synergizing top-down and bottom-up approaches.
The report stresses in particular, the importance of innovation and the promotion of gender equality for each of their eight historic examples, noting also that these underpin all of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  
Tostan’s community-led movement to abandon FGC in Senegal is put forward as one of three examples of campaigns for social norm change that have adopted “radical, effective approaches to change trenchant social norms.” The report reads:
…the innovation and diffusion processes were effectively shaped to overcome the social backlash against norm change. Mobilizing the support of influential males in the innovation system was a powerful, commonly employed strategy that enabled more dramatic results in women’s empowerment.
The report notes Tostan’s success in promoting women’s rights, as well as in shifting social norms away from requiring FGC as a prerequisite for marriage. Building on these successes and those of other historic innovations, the ICRW claims that integrating the seven elements laid out in its agenda for action will be “the key in applying a gender lens to technological, economic, or social innovations that aim to solve some of the most challenging problems in international development.”
Tostan was also recently featured in the Center for Global Development (CDG) Report, Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health.