Tostan was cited as best practice in a recent report published by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Working Group for Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Development. Released in March 2013, the report presents ten recommendations for the Ministry on how to better address the needs and priorities of girls and young women through development programs. This list was based on an in-depth analysis of various existing development initiatives.
Several of these recommendations referenced Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) as a successful approach to promoting the role of girls and women in development. For example, the second recommendation of the report is to “promote the empowerment of adolescent girls and young women through projects which encourage greater equality between girls and boys and men and women.” The report described how gender equality is just as much a means to promoting female empowerment as it is a result of female empowerment. Therefore, programs promoting empowerment should include men and boys as well as women and girls throughout the project. The CEP’s inclusion of both sexes in class sessions and Community Management Committees (CMCs) was listed in the report as a technique that helps promote gender equality and foster new roles for women in their communities.
Another recommendation in the report dealt with the creation of effective indicators to measure empowerment. It states that whatever the goals of a gender-based initiative, it should have clear, measurable criteria to determine the initiative’s effectiveness. The report specifically mentioned Tostan’s participative evaluation approach in the measurement tool called “most significant change” (MSC). With this tool, participants are asked what the most significant change has been to their lives through the program. These responses are analyzed, and through them Tostan can determine which aspects of people’s lives are most affected and by approximately how much.