For media enquiries, please contact


In her much awaited first ever book “The Moment of Lift,” Melinda Gates identifies Tostan Founder, Molly Melching, as a quiet hero and one of her teachers. She credits her with imparting the lesson, “Outrage can save one girl, or two. Only empathy can change the system.”

Melinda makes a bold claim: when we lift up women, we lift up humanity. Throughout, she shares the gut-wrenching, inspiring and triumphant stories of women she’s met from around the world. Her writing ignites a sense of urgency, leaving readers convinced that equality can’t wait. In the book, Melinda dedicates ten pages to Tostan’s impact, having learnt about Tostan’s work while travelling with Molly in Senegal in 2012. Click here to find out more about the book.

At a time when the world is bombarded with stories of political dysfunction, unexpected acts of violence and environmental ruin, a new story is rising. “There is a quiet social earthquake happening in West Africa.” said Molly Melching, Founder and Creative Director of Tostan. “Rural women in traditionally patriarchal societies are running for and being elected to local office, and Muslim religious leaders are emerging as champions of human rights, particularly for girls and women.”

From 2019-2022, Tostan will join Melinda Gates and #MomentofLift by scaling its model of wellbeing to more than 2,000 communities in three countries of West Africa. This collaborative effort, sparked by strategic philanthropy, will engage 2 million more people in joyful positive change.

Rural community leaders – both women and men – credit Tostan with providing the framework to achieve significant cultural breakthroughs. Tostan’s three-year Community Empowerment Program puts people in charge of their own futures. Among its most celebrated results to date, 8,830 communities in Africa have declared the abandonment of child marriage and female genital cutting, affecting nearly 5.5 million people. Through Tostan a new generation of African women are lifting themselves: they are able to complete their education, marry whom they want and make their own decisions about their lives.

Two women in Senegal smiling, in a Tostan partner community

Photo from Tambacounda region, Senegal.

“Our way of thinking has undergone changes since the arrival of Tostan…. Where Tostan is active, a new consciousness emerges, a junction of energies and hearts in unison.” – Tostan Participant, Guinea-Bissau