Each participant in a Tostan class “adopts” a friend, neighbor, or family member and shares with them new knowledge learned during the class. Awareness-raising activities are held to inform the entire community about program themes, such as protecting human rights or improving parental practices. Intervillage meetings are also organized to provide an opportunity for representatives from many neighboring communities to share their experiences and discuss solutions to common problems.
CEP class sessions and content are broadcasted through regular community and regional radio programs as well, allowing important information to reach broad audiences. These broadcasts bring concepts such as human rights, health and hygiene, and community empowerment to the airwaves in Senegal and Mali, generating conversations on these issues across the countries.
To further coordinate efforts, Community Management Committees (CMC) create social mobilization teams consisting of community members, or social mobilization agents, specifically selected for their skills in communication and their dedication to positive social change. After they receive training from Tostan staff, they play an important role in raising awareness as they visit communities in their social networks to facilitate discussions on human rights-focused themes.
Marième Bamba is a social mobilization agent in her community of Soudiane in the Fatick region of Senegal. While participating in the CEP in her village in 2000-2002, she learned about her human rights and also the harmful health consequences of female genital cutting (FGC). Her Bambara community had practiced FGC for a long time, but after much dialogue and discussion, they decided to declare abandonment of the practice in 1998 before they participated in the CEP, thanks to social mobilization activities implemented by other Tostan community members. Since then, Marième has traveled throughout Senegal – especially the regions of Kaolack, Fatick, and Thiès – to share the information she learned on human rights and the harmful effects of FGC, mobilizing others to action.
Lamine Sao, a well-respected Islamic religious leader in his community of Sédhiou in southern Senegal, is another prime example of social mobilization at work. Lamine visits at least six villages per month in Sédhiou to raise awareness of human rights, child protection, early pregnancy, and the abandonment of FGC and child/forced marriage.
Through Tostan’s partnership with Orchid Project, four additional social mobilization teams, consisting of men and women community volunteers, lead awareness-raising visits each month to communities throughout the Kolda and Fouta regions of Senegal. These teams facilitate discussion on human rights as well as work together to improve their social mobilization strategies.
Combined together, all social mobilization efforts work specifically to maximize the impact of knowledge shared, allowing more people access to relevant and essential information to their wellbeing.
“Tostan’s CEP cannot be implemented in all communities [in Africa]. So, social mobilization takes over through radio programs, plays, and other activities to help spread information.”
Malick Niang, Tostan’s Social Mobilization Coordinator in Senegal