With this new knowledge they are able to take action in their community to ensure that rights are protected, environments are safe, and each individual – woman, man, girl, and boy – is able to reach their full potential.

In Somaliland and Puntland, Somalia, 42 Tostan partner communities have been working actively for three years to promote human rights, and in the village of Dila in Somaliland, the focus has specifically been on empowering the community to respect the rights of girls and boys. Since starting the CEP, this historically conservative community has begun to listen to children’s voices and to help them find roles in the positive social change process.

“Generally, Somali young girls are so shy and introverted, especially in public,” said Ibadu Ismail, Dila’s Community Management Committee (CMC) Coordinator, “but thanks to the Tostan CEP our daughters are now freely speaking in public about different violations of children’s rights, such as child/forced marriage, all forms of female genital cutting (FGC) and other forms of violence they can suffer at home, in society, and at school.’’  

Children’s education is also a top priority for the community since learning how important it is to a child’s healthy development. Ibadu continued to share how the community has transformed: “Before Tostan, most of our children did not have the opportunity to attend school. They would spend time in the bush learning how to herd their family cattle. Now, thanks to the flexible hours of Tostan’s nonformal education classes, they can both go about light housework and attend classes. As a result, they can read and write in Somali, and some have even reintegrated back into formal school because the CEP helped them catch up for lost years.”

A firm understanding of human rights by the young CEP participants, their families, and community is what built the foundation for these positive changes. Their commitment to human rights has helped them have the confidence to share their knowledge with others. Ibadu said, “Their active participation in awareness-raising activities through sketches, songs, and poems is very much helping deliver messages of positive change to both children and adults.”