Tostan, along with former president Bill Clinton, will be awarded the Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut next month. The award is given biennially by UConn’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center for human rights to recognize a significant effort to advance international justice and human rights around the world.
Tostan,Senegal, offers a non-formal, human rights-based educational program in six countries across West Africa. The organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2016.
Molly Melching, founder and CEO of Tostan, has lived in Senegal for over 40 years. She developed Tostan’s “Community Empowerment Program” after spending time in rural communities and noticing a lack of access to education and information, especially in local languages. Almost 25 years later—as a result of this empowering human rights education—thousands of communities across the region have participated in public declarations to declare their intent to abandon female genital cutting and child marriage, and taken a stand for democracy, health and dignity for all.
“Receiving the Thomas J. Dodd Prize is a true honor, as is seeing Tostan’s name alongside President Bill Clinton’s,” said Melching. “It is particularly meaningful that this award is recognizing our work in bringing human rights education to thousands of rural African communities in a way that has led to unprecedented and positive social change.”
The Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights was established at the University of Connecticut in 2003 thanks to the continued efforts of Senator Christopher J. Dodd and other members of the Dodd Family.
The prize commemorates the distinguished career in public service of Thomas J. Dodd, who served as Executive Trial Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, as U.S. Representative from 1953 to 1957, and as Connecticut Senator from 1959 to 1971. Thomas Dodd continually promoted human rights in the United States and abroad during his long public career. The prize is awarded by the Dodd Research Center to a leader or group who has made a significant effort to advance the cause of international justice and global human rights.
Dodd prize honorees receive $100,000, along with a bronze bust of Thomas Dodd. All of the prize money will go to Tostan.