Senegalese group wins 250,000 kronor Anna Lindh award

The Senegalese women's rights group Tostan was on Thursday awarded the second annual 250,000-kronor Anna Lindh Award for its work to help women in the west African nation.

“Tostan’s pioneering work has given women in Senegal self-confidence and the tools to bring an end to destructive social conventions” such as female circumcision, the Anna Lindh Memorial Fund said in a statement.

“With respect for local traditions and values, the organisation has given women the vision of a dignified life and the power to try to improve the quality of life,” the jury said.

Tostan – which means “breakthrough” in Wolof, the most commonly used language in Senegal – was created 10 years ago by Molly Melching, an American who has lived in the African country for three decades.

The organisation is aimed at helping educate women in rural areas about human rights, democracy, health, hygiene and income-generating projects.

As a result of the Tostan programme, 1,527 villages have put an end to female circumcisions and child marriages, the Memorial Fund said.

Melching, who accepted the prize on Thursday from the hands of former Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson, said Anna Lindh “symbolizes the values Tostan stands for and is an important role model for women around the world”.

The Swedish foreign minister was fatally stabbed in September 2003 by a then 24-year-old man while shopping in an upmarket Stockholm department store without a bodyguard.

Tostan is “a fantastic example of of how others are continuing to work in Anna Lindh’s spirit,” Carlsson said.

Last year, the prize went to Israeli journalist Amira Hass, whose reporting from the West Bank and Gaza has helped contribute to a better understanding of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation.



Harvard creates professorship in Lindh?s name

America's Harvard University has created a professorship in honor of murdered Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

The Professorship in Global Leadership and Public Policy has been created at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and will be largely financed through a one million dollar donation from Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson.

Ericsson’s chief executive Carl-Henric Svanberg had, along with Lindh, been a major supporter of Sweden adopting the euro during last year’s contentious campaign, which ended with the country overwhelmingly rejecting the single currency. The two had campaigned together in the days prior to her death.

Anna Lindh died on September 11th, 2003, from stab wounds inflicted during a brutal attack at a Stockholm department store. She was tipped to become the next prime minister and was respected internationally for her diplomatic and leadership skills.

Judi Lembke