Saturday’s New York Times magazine included an article called, “The Art of Social Change,” in which Tostan’s approach to community-led development is presented as a successful and respectful means to end harmful traditional practices. Using sociologist Gerry Mackie’s expertise on the complexities of social norms, the author, Kwame Anthony Appiah, draws parallels between the disappearance of foot binding in China and Tostan’s approach to ending female genital cutting (FGC) in West and East Africa.
The author cites Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) as a method that applies lessons learned from the successful anti-foot binding movement. Both models center on community consensus to change social conventions, thereby promoting dialogue about formerly taboo cultural issues and creating collective agreements for change. Most importantly, each program is grounded in cultural respect. Appiah writes, “Tostan’s aim wasn’t to end F.G.C. It was to provide people in the community with knowledge about human rights. But gradually, through the course of discussions of health and human rights, both women and men in Malicounda Bambara turned against F.G.C.”
Click here to read the full article.