Through Tostan’s CEP, CMC members gain the knowledge and skills necessary to encourage and facilitate registration of births in their community. For example, they learn about birth registration and gained management skills so they can implement a registry system. Participants learn how to read and write in their local language, allowing them to participate in the process, and discover new methods for conducting social mobilization. They also learn about an individual’s rights to nationality and children’s rights to development and protection. As indicated to the participants, if a newborn is not registered, they cannot enroll in school as a child or vote later in life. This means that birth registration is extremely important for children’s cognitive and social development.

CMC members have been able to utilize this holistic knowledge to successfully increase the number of births registered. In the case of The Gambia, CMCs collaborated with Tostan Gambia on social mobilization efforts, which led to the registration of over 9,000 children in 2011.

“Before, people didn’t have papers here. Parents couldn’t sign up their children for school because the children didn’t have birth certificates. Now, when a child is born, his/her parents make sure to obtain papers.”

Nogoye Dieng, Coordinator of the CMC of Medina Gounass II, Senegal