Molly Melching

Founder and CEO, Tostan

Skoll Awardee


Molly Melching's early experiences in Senegal reinforced her beliefs that many development efforts were not addressing the true priorities of African communities, particularly women. Melching began to develop a new type of learning program that actively involved participants by using African languages and traditional methods of learning. Their efforts grew throughout the 1980s, leading Molly to found Tostan in 1991. The Tostan model engages communities for three years in themes of democracy, human rights, problem-solving, health/hygiene, literacy, project management skills, and early childhood development. Tostan is now in 8 African countries. Molly has gained international recognition, especially for Tostan's efforts in spearheading the large scale grassroots movement for the abandonment of female genital cutting and child marriage. Tostan has received numerous awards, including the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.