Tostan Update

Posted on August 01, 2013, by Courtney Petersen, Tostan

Since November 2012, we have received over $33,000 in donations from our affiliation with Half the Sky Movement. Through these funds, African women, men, and adolescents  are able to participate in our  Community Empowerment Program (CEP) - a holistic, non-formal education program designed to put communities in charge of their own futures. 


The Tostan program has impacts across five key areas essential for community-led development: Education, Health, Governance, Economic Growth, and the Environment.   As community members, especially women and girls, participate in our program they:

·       build a foundation for all other learning as they learn about their human rights and responsibilities

·       gain literacy and numeracy skills

·       learn factual information on health and hygiene including harmful practices, the importance of pre and post natal consultations, and vaccinations

·       are empowered to apply their knowledge to promote education, good public health practices, and a clean environment

·       gain the confidence to voice their opinions and participate in decision-making processes within their family and community

·       develop leadership and project management skills that allow them to emerge as leaders and entrepreneurs 

·       work with their community and social network to promote equality and develop new social norms that respect the human rights and dignity of all people.

As women and girls, and their communities, develop their skills, education, and find their voices, they can take charge of their own development and leave a lasting impact.

Twenty women who have just completed the Tostan program in Labé, a city in the Fouta Djallon region in Guinea, are just one example. Looking back over the past three years, many said that learning to read was their biggest achievement, while others said it was their participation in decision-making processes in their community. They were also very proud of the success of their income-generating activities making soap, cultivating potatoes, and processing ginger for sale – all skills that they learned through the program.


Although their program class sessions have now ended, these women are showing no signs of slowing down. Though the effect may be small at first, these women are contributing to a major shift in the roles that women and girls will play in their community for generations to come. In their words, “We want to continue in the direction we are headed!”

Learn more about Tostan’s work to empower women and girls and our new Generational Change in Three Years campaign on our website:  

Courtney Petersen is a communications officer for Tostan.