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Human Rights Education is Key to Change

Molly Melching, founder of Tostan, to speak Sept. 29

September 24, 2014— Since 1974 Molly Melching has been empowering rural communities in Africa to lead movements for change. Her organization, Tostan, has helped thousands of villages in Senegal and other African countries abandon female genital cutting, end child marriage and decrease violence toward women.

As part of the Anne and Sandy Dolowitz Lecture in Human Rights sponsored by the College of Humanities at the University of Utah, Melching will discuss how human rights education can change harmful social norms, Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m. at The City Library. Following the lecture, Melching will sign copies of the biography that tells her story, “However Long the Night.”

“Melching can help us understand how to change deeply rooted cultural and social practices from within communities,” said Johanna Watzinger-Tharp, associate dean of the College of Humanities. “Grassroots community-based activism is not only critical for international human rights work, but also to promote social change in local communities here at home.”

Melching has dedicated her life to positive social transformation in Africa and believes education and knowing one’s human rights help protect peace, health and well-being. In 1991, she founded Tostan, a nongovernmental organization that provides African communities with a three-year, non-formal education program focusing on governance, education, health, the environment and economic growth. Since it began, the program has reached and impacted more than 3 million people. For more information click here.