Molly Melching has lived and worked in Senegal since 1974 and founded the international NGO, Tostan, in 1991. Tostan, meaning “breakthrough” in the Wolof language of Senegal, implements a holistic, three-year empowering education program that has engaged over 3,000 rural African communities in cross-cutting themes of democracy, human rights and responsibilities, peace and security, problem-solving, hygiene and health, literacy, project management skills, and early childhood development. The program has supported millions of African adults and youth to achieve life-transforming results in the areas of governance, health, education, economic growth and the environment, and has led to more than 8,500 communities in eight African countries declaring their intention to abandon female genital cutting and child/forced marriage.
Molly and Tostan have received international recognition for their groundbreaking work in the areas of social norm change and human rights education and have received numerous awards including: The Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize, The Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, UNESCO’s King Sejong Literacy Prize, and The Thomas J. Dodd Award for Justice and Human Rights. A New York Times best-selling book by acclaimed author Aimee Molloy, However Long the Night, vividly relates Molly and Tostan’s story and they are also featured in Melinda Gates’s 2019 book, Moment of Lift.