An Update on Tostan’s Impact: Relational Change in the Making
Data analyses of Tostan’s multi-donor funded project, the Breakthrough Generation Initiative (2017-2020), showed that after following training with Tostan:
- Communities made decisions to change harmful social norms such as female genital cutting that limit well-being;
- Women took on new roles, and increased their voice and influence in their communities;
- Participants effectively spread new ideas and knowledge to other communities as part of Tostan’s “organized diffusion” strategy;
- Communities developed an increased capacity to design and take actions to lead their own development.
The evaluation revealed a clear shift in critical issues impacting community well-being across the four countries where the model was implemented:
- In The Gambia, an increase of 43% to 81% of women who said they expressed their ideas during community meetings.
- In Guinea, a reduction from 94% to 3% of people who would approve of female genital cutting being performed on a relative’s daughter.
- In Guinea Bissau, a reduction from 78% to 6% in respondents who would approve of the marriage of a girl under 16.
- In Mali, a reduction from 84% to 10% of respondents who would approve of corporal punishment to discipline children.
The achievements from the Breakthrough Generation Initiative are among the many examples of hope and resilience we share from across Tostan’s partner communities where, in 2021, Tostan reached 26,985 participants in 407 communities in five countries.
What do communities love about Tostan’s model?
Surveys conducted with communities years after they have taken Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program suggest that the respectful and collaborative way in which new information is delivered is the most cherished aspect of Tostan’s programs.
“When we don’t take into account aspects of people’s lives such as religion, tradition, and the part they play in the resulting harmful practices [like female genital cutting], you cannot work towards positive change. Tostan’s community-led collaborative approach is all-inclusive. They educate the youth, women, men, elders and religious leaders about human rights, health, sanitation, conflict resolution, economic empowerment and parenting in discussions led by facilitators that are from their very own communities.”
Naima Dido, Program Director at Seed Programs International and former participant in Tostan’s courses at the Tostan Training Centre in Senegal
The impact of Tostan’s work shines through in the shifting relationships between men and women in the home and changes in the way that women are treated in the community. This is an example of relational change in action. Relational change is a type of grassroots change centered around co-creation, trust, and mutual respect. This forms the heart of our work at Tostan.
You understand that Tostan is doing development differently than most other NGOs and that we are achieving breakthrough, lasting results through our respectful, research-based, and community-led approach. Through its holistic work, Tostan is addressing many of the SDGs effectively. Making change happen in another part of the world can have a ripple effect everywhere. The Tostan model works at scale and is replicable.