Community Empowerment Program
We use a process called organized diffusion to help spread information through connected communities, or social networks. This social mobilization process increases the impact of our programs, spreading new ideas organically from person to person and community to community.
We estimate this strategy allows our work to impact roughly ten individuals for every one direct participant in our program. Since 1991, more than 200,000 people have directly participated in our program, spreading the indirect reach to over two million people. Examples of this community-led outreach approach include:
Each participant in a Tostan class ’adopts’ a friend, neighbor, or family member and shares with him or her new knowledge learned during the class. This practice ensures that the concepts discussed within the CEP spread throughout the community.
Community classes organize awareness-raising activities to inform the entire community about program themes, such as protecting human rights or improving health practices in their village. Community Management Committees (CMC) and participants also organize trips to neighboring villages to discuss new ideas and facilitate community events around these topics.
Intervillage meetings bring together representatives from many neighboring communities. These meetings provide an opportunity for community members to share their experiences and discuss solutions to common problems.
When a group of communities decides to abandon harmful practices like female genital cutting and child/forced marriage, we help them to organize a public declaration. At public declarations, entire networks of communities come together to celebrate their positive traditions as they abandon harmful ones.
Our regular community and regional radio programs allow us to reach broad audiences. These broadcasts bring concepts such as human rights, health and hygiene, and community empowerment to the airwaves in Senegal and Mali, generating further conversations on these issues across the countries.
Social Mobilization Teams
CMCs create social mobilization teams consisting of Social Mobilization Agents (SMA). These are community members specifically selected for their skills in communication and their dedication to positive social change. After they receive training from Tostan staff, they play an important role in raising awareness as they visit neighboring and intermarrying villages to facilitate discussions on human rights-focused themes.