Founder and Executive Director, Tostan
Molly Melching is the executive director of Tostan. Having lived and worked in Senegal since 1974, Melching has received international recognition for her groundbreaking educational programs that have led communities to affect life transforming changes including the abandonment of female genital cutting and child/forced marriage. More than 4,500 communities in Senegal, Guinea, The Gambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso have made public declarations for abandonment of harmful traditional practices following a human rights-based education program implemented by Tostan, the NGO founded by Molly in 1991.
Other breakthroughs include reduction in infant and maternal mortality, widespread school and birth registration, and the emergence of female leadership. Molly received the Humanitarian Alumni Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999, the Sargent Shriver Distinguished Award for Humanitarian Service in 2002, and Sweden's Anna Lindh Award for Tostan's work in human rights in 2005. In 2007, Tostan won the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the largest and most prestigious in the humanitarian field.