Last week, I posted a picture of me and my mother-in-law on Instagram and wrote that she is the head of the charity organisation Tostan Sweden (the word “tostan” means “breakthrough” in the West African Wolof language). Many of you wondered what Tostan does so I figured I’d save you the google and tell you about it here 🙂
Tostan is a charity organisation that promotes human rights in West Africa with a particular focus on the right of women and children. After the three year Tostan program whole villages stops with female genital cutting and child- and forced marriage.
What makes Tostan unique is the fact that they use education of the citizens in the villages as a main tool for change. This has proved to be very efficient as 5 million people has stopped with female genital cutting in 8500 villages. I call that I pretty big change!
A women alone can not just stop with genital cutting since she then will not be accepted and will not be able to marry anyone. Female genital cutting is a social norm that all the communities follow. Women who are not cut are not seen as adults but rather as “unclean” which in its turn leads to isolation. To make this stop both women, men and religious leaders needs to be on board. They also need to have several villages onboard to make a real change, and once there’s a consensus a big festival is arranged in order to declare that the villages now have stopped with female genital cutting and child- and forced marriage. On the 16th of December 2018, 50 villages in north Senegal declared that they stopped with female genital cutting and child- and forced marriage, a program finansed by Tostan Sweden.
Tostan’s educational program starts off by a committee consisting of 17 people, whose main role is to implement the program into the development of the society. One person is appointed as the main tutor or facilitator, who speaks the language of the village and is responsible for implementing the program and change. Through this program women get more rights and perspectives which brings them further along in the society.
I think it is so cool that Tostan keep proving how far you can get with a society by giving women their rights, a feministic success story!
My mother in law, Anne-Charlotte, showed me these pictures after her last visit to Senegal right before Christmas
“During my visit to the Fouta region in North Senegal this December, one women came up to me and said that before Tostan came to the village she lived in darkness like the bottom of a well. With Tostan came light and everything changed. She is now member of the village’s committee and is responsible for that all pregnant women have access to medical care before and after childbirth, something that has increased the likelihood for survival among both children and mothers.”
If you would like to donate to this proven success story you can easily do so on https://tostan.se/
You can also apply for a membership in the Organization which only costs 100 SEK per year
We usually donate some money as a present to friends and relatives, maybe something to be inspired by next time you’re invited to a party 🙂