At this year’s edition of the Swedish Forum for Human Rights – the largest forum for human rights in Scandinavia – eight volunteers from Tostan Sweden pitched in to represent Tostan. One of the volunteers, Jonatan Arblom Sundblad, here reports on the successes of the event:

The forum took place on 15-17 November, and, while the weather outside was almost freezing, the warmth from the participants inside ensured that all we kept going. This year, the forum’s central theme was “The right to a life free from violence” – a human right that has been part of the Tostan education program since the organization was founded.

Anne Charlotte Ringquist on the Tostan stand

This was the first time in five years that Tostan Sweden attended the event and we made acquaintance with over a hundred people, all potential supporters of Tostan. Some of the visitors were already Tostan supporters and came by to cheer us on. Others had been working with UNICEF and UN Women and had previously heard about Tostan through their own work in New York and in the field. We also met a number of secondary school and university students, development professionals, and local government representatives.

On the first day of the forum, Tostan Sweden’s Chairman and board member of Tostan International, Anne Charlotte Ringquist, and Tostan Sweden board member, Björn Westerdahl, led a seminar about Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) and what Tostan is doing with regards to the theme, “The right to a life free from violence”. With the help of Swedish-Senegalese musician Fatou Sadie, the seminar attracted a large audience!

Tostan Sweden and Fatou Sadie animate the forum with Senegalese music!

Human rights instruments related to protection from all forms of violence and discrimination are discussed in communities during the first phase of the three-year Community Empowerment Program. Using relevant and fun techniques such as roleplay, songs and poetry in local languages, the Tostan facilitators engage participants in discussions around this theme and what it means in their lives. In turn, participants are able to identify actions to apply non-violence and security in their daily lives, and work towards creating homes and communities defined by of wellbeing. The theme is explored in even more depth through the Peace and Security module, which is led in communities that have completed the CEP. Participants in this module are equipped with tools and techniques for mitigating conflicts at the local level, such as family or land rights disputes, and build peace from the grassroots up.

At Tostan Sweden we were delighted to take part in the events and look forward to participating in more in the future, to bring even more support to the global movement for human rights and shared wellbeing.


Volunteers Jonatan Arblom Sundblad and Sigrid Timdahl on the Tostan stand

Tostan Sweden was founded in 2004 as a sister organization to Tostan International, with the aim of mobilizing further support for Tostan in Sweden and spreading the word of Tostan’s work with communities in West Africa. Thanks to partnership with organisations, foundations, companies and private donors, Tostan Sweden has raised funds for more than 100 CEPs, primarily implemented in the Fouta region of Senegal. They form part of Tostan’s group of philanthropic leaders, the Leadership Circle.

There are currently four Tostan sister organizations, active in Canada, Denmark, France and Sweden. If you are interested in getting involved in your country, find out more on their page.