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Mallika Dutt
Mallika Dutt, founder of New Delhi- and New York-based global human rights organization Breakthrough, is one of today’s most innovative, admired, and effective leaders in cultural transformation. Dutt has reinvented the delivery of social and behavioral change through a potent mix of stirring multimedia campaigns, cutting-edge pop culture, smart social media and authentic on-the-ground community engagement. Her unique formula has earned her accolades in the global human rights community, the media and entertainment industry -- and most recently, the technology community.

Dutt’s passionate entrepreneurial style and singular ability to pinpoint the leading edge of the cultural arc has inspired millions to take bold action. Those touched by Breakthrough’s work are motivated to bring the ideals of dignity, equality and justice into their own families and communities — even when doing so requires challenging deeply entrenched norms and attitudes. As a result, Breakthrough lifts the lives of people in the United States, India, and beyond to higher, more just and peaceful, ground.

Breakthrough’s campaigns are as provocative as they are uplifting. In India, Breakthrough’s highly visible television advertisements and deeply transformative community education campaigns on violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS have reached millions and sparked an unprecedented national dialogue on women’s rights. They include, What Kind of Man Are You?, a multimedia campaign that held a spotlight to HIV/AIDS transmission within marriage; Is This Justice?, a multimedia campaign that brought public attention to the stigma and discrimination faced by women living with HIV/AIDS; and Bell Bajao, an award winning multimedia and community education campaign calling on men and boys to bring domestic violence to a halt.

In the United States, Breakthrough’s innovative campaigns and tools for teaching democracy and justice include America 2049, a transmedia Facebook game that explores assumptions about racial justice, human rights, migration and democracy; Restore Fairness, a comprehensive multimedia initiative that uplifts the human rights impact of current U.S. policies on immigration, criminal and racial justice and national security and seeks to reframe public dialogue; and I Am This Land, a youth-focused online space that asks participants to share views on diversity, pluralism, identity, gender and sexuality, immigration, and racial justice.

Through Breakthrough, Dutt puts technology in the hands of people and communities, inspiring them to share their stories of transformation, bringing empowerment, enlightenment and opportunity to a new generation of leaders emerging from the margins.

Dutt is the recipient of numerous awards and has served on several boards, including the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Human Rights, the Open Society Institute’s U.S. Programs, the Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Project and WITNESS. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Games for Change Advisory Board, and the Rights Working Group Steering Committee. She is a co-founder of SAKHI for South Asian Women.

Dutt began her career as an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. She graduated from NYU Law School, received a Masters in International Affairs and South Asian Studies from Columbia University, and an A.B. in International Affairs from Mount Holyoke College.

Entries by Mallika Dutt

How Losing My Friend Showed Me That All Violence is Connected

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2016 | 10:53 AM

On September 13, 2015, I woke up to headlines about the Egyptian Army bombing a group of Mexican tourists in the desert. It wasn't until the next morning that I discovered that one of the people who were killed was a very dear friend of mine. His name was...

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Storytelling, Advocacy, and the Legacy of Berta Cáceres

(1) Comments | Posted April 4, 2016 | 9:57 AM

Sometimes a story comes along and punches you in the gut.  When that happens to me, it's usually because of a powerful storyteller who weaves a narrative arc that connects self and purpose, vulnerability and transformation.

I was punched in the gut recently when a young woman called Berta Zúñiga...

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Effective Activism Needs Self-Care

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2016 | 3:37 PM

Last summer, I had my very first sabbatical. It was the first time in three decades of human rights advocacy that I had the opportunity to step away from the work that I have been...

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Ending Violence Against Women Begins at the Bus Stop

(0) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 6:42 PM

By Mallika Dutt and Carlos Andrés Gómez

If there were ever a time for men to stand side-by-side with women in the fight to end violence against women and girls, it is now.

For many of us, in fact, it's this weekend, when the two of us will join...

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Remembering Jyoti By Calling on Men to Help End The Culture of Violence Against Women

(1) Comments | Posted March 13, 2014 | 12:13 PM

One year ago, Jyoti Singh Pandey, a 23-year-old student in New Delhi, boarded a bus with a friend and headed home. She never got there. Jyoti was brutally raped by the men on the bus, her injuries severe enough to kill her.

The outcry that followed sent thousands of protesters...

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We Are Not at War With Mexico

(20) Comments | Posted August 8, 2013 | 3:58 PM

When the U.S. Senate passed its historic bill for immigration reform, I wanted to jump for joy.

To be clear: I wanted to, but I couldn't.

There is much in this bill to celebrate. To a nearly shocking, wildest-dreams degree, S.744 offers a glimpse at what common-sense, inclusive...

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Violence Against Women: We're Asking Men the Wrong Question

(35) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 6:58 PM

We often invite men to connect to the issue of violence against women by saying, "What if were your mother? Your daughter? Your sister?" While this invitation is understandable and respectable, it's actually the wrong question to ask.

The recent major report from the World Health Organization confirms...

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How We Can All 'Help Nigella'

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 3:14 PM

The shocking snapshots making the rounds this week have prompted at least two important questions: (1) What special kind of arrogance does it take to allegedly choke a famous person in a paparazzi-ringed restaurant and think you'll get away with it? and (2) Why didn't anyone help Nigella?...

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What's So Funny About Immigration Reform?

(2) Comments | Posted June 13, 2013 | 5:48 PM

In 2009, the United States deported a woman named Laura despite her panicked pleas that if her violent ex-boyfriend found her in Mexico, he would kill her. They ignored an order of protection that suggested the same.

Guess where this is going. Three days after her return,...

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How Men Leading LGBT Rights in Sports Culture Can Help Stop Violence Against Women

(7) Comments | Posted May 15, 2013 | 1:27 PM

Brendon Ayanbadejo is correct: "Gay" does not equal "feminine." More to the point, as the Super Bowl-winning linebacker recently told Meet the Press, "gay" does not automatically equal anything at all. "People think that gayness has something to do with femininity, when really we just need to erase...

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An Open Letter to Louis CK

(2) Comments | Posted April 19, 2013 | 3:11 PM

Violence against women is definitely not funny. After all, the finest humor generally involves poking fun, in some way, at those in power. That's why jokes directly about rape and domestic violence fail on so many levels. But that's also why your newest jokes about men's violence against...

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Promise to Protect Immigrant Women's Rights

(6) Comments | Posted March 27, 2013 | 4:27 PM

We stand today at a watershed moment. At least three moments, actually. And I believe that if we seize them all together, right now, we can advance the rights and improve the lives of all women in America. Especially if men join the call.

What are those three moments? First,...

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Men Promising to Stop Violence Against Women Will Be a Global Tipping Point

(0) Comments | Posted March 8, 2013 | 7:17 AM

We have struggled to end violence against women for as long as any of us can remember. But today -- finally -- I believe we stand at a global tipping point. As we all know, series of increasingly shocking -- and increasingly visible -- acts of violence from Delhi to...

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It's Time to Talk About Men and Violence

(2) Comments | Posted December 20, 2012 | 11:31 AM

Like so many others, my heart broke when I heard the news out of Newtown last week. And like so many others, my first thought was about gun control. We need it. End of story. My next thought was: When are we going to talk seriously about men and violence...

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Savita Halappanavar Should Be Alive Today

(17) Comments | Posted November 19, 2012 | 11:00 AM

Savita Halappanavar is dead because bad laws and ideology -- and a breathtaking disregard for women's humanity -- stood in the way of sound medical practice. Savita Halappanavar is dead because the tragically expiring heartbeat of her fetus was deemed more valuable than that of a living, breathing woman. And...

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Defending Children's Rights Means Defending Their Mothers, Too

(1) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 11:22 AM

Each year, we celebrate Child Rights Day to honor the millions of children who are the heart and soul of India -- and of India's future. It is a day of fun, games and sweets, but it is also an important opportunity to reflect on the health, safety and essential...

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Why Won't Obama or Romney Lead on Immigration?

(19) Comments | Posted September 26, 2012 | 5:23 PM


With about a month left until Election Day, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are running out of time to share their vision for a fair, common sense immigration process. And really, haven't we been waiting long enough?

Both candidates have given primetime coverage...

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President Obama, Immigrant Families Need More Than Deferrals

(42) Comments | Posted August 23, 2012 | 1:04 PM

Right now, tens of thousands of teenagers and 20-somethings are standing in lines that circle full city blocks and fill rooms the size of airplane hangars. What are they waiting for? Not concert tickets or the latest iPhone. They are waiting hours -- even days -- for a fair shot...

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"KONY 2012": Why It's Time to Put the 'Rescue' Story to Bed

(7) Comments | Posted March 14, 2012 | 10:21 AM

Jason Russell and Invisible Children know that a powerful story can change the world. But by characterizing essentially all Ugandans as either war criminals or helpless victims, the massively viral "KONY 2012" manages to flatten its subject rather than deepen it. Which is to say: it fails the test of...

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Open Letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano on Immigrant Detention

(3) Comments | Posted February 20, 2009 | 10:48 AM

February 20, 2009

Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We are delighted to welcome such excellent new leadership to the Department of Homeland Security. On January 30th you sent a directive for an agency...

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