Breakthrough is a global human rights organization working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Our cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilization, agenda-setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality, and justice of all.

Breakthrough History

Campus Catalyst Programs

2016

Breakthrough continued our on-campus programs directed towards mobilizing members of Greek life to take positive action towards the goal of making college campuses safer spaces for everyone.

Skoll Award

Breakthrough was one of six recipients of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.  The Skoll Award includes a $1.25 million core support investment, intended to help Breakthrough scale our work and increase our impact.

Launch of THE G WORD

Breakthrough launched THE G WORD, an online storytelling platform designed to transform gender norms, one story at a time.  THE G WORD links together real peoples’s stories to highlight the connection between gender norms and gender based violence.

Inspiration Awards

Breakthrough hosted a gala with over 400 social leaders and change actors in attendance.  Dinesh Paliwal, Ila Paliwal, and Amy Ziering were among honorees recognized for their contributions to cultural change.

Banner Up

Breakthrough catalysts Will & Bill organized the Banner Up campaign on their campus at Indiana University in response to the sexist banners displayed on fraternities at Old Dominion University.  Fraternities across IU’s campus hung banners in support of survivors.

Facebook Case Study

2016

Facebook published a case study highlighting Breakthrough’s work to target micro-communities–specifically, single college campuses–using their platform. The case study is part of the Facebook for Nonprofits website.

#Shareyourstory–India

This campaign encouraged and empowered women to share their stories of sexual harassment with the young men in their lives. By breaking their silence, women were able to transform the conversation around sexual harassment and bring awareness to those in the best position to make a meaningful cultural change.

Mission Hazaar

2015

Multimedia campaign promoting the human rights of girls and their value in families and communities. Building on years of on-ground work in Haryana, we’re working with 150 schools to transform gender norms and 3,000 health care workers to protect the rights of daughters.

Dudes Against Violence Against Women 2015

2015

Our second comedy show sold out faster than the last, sending the message that dudes are against violence against women and that we all have the power to make change.

Catalyst Training–NYC

Over three trainings held in July and October 2015 and January 2016, 45 of you came to Breakthrough for a two-day training on how to use your existing skills and passions to take action in your own spheres to challenge violence against women.

#NoMayPac

2015

Breakthrough’s #noMayPac campaign, launched three days before the “fight of the century” between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, reached more than 50 million people with the message that domestic violence is unacceptable. Seizing on a moment of massive attention to serial abuser Floyd Mayweather, the campaign successfully reframed the public conversation with a demand for individual and institutional accountability for domestic violence.

#askingforit

2015

Our multimedia campaign helped more than 700,000 people identify and respond to sexual harassment in India. Using street theater, bus ads, school-based workshops, and more, we’re turning bystanders into changemakers to support the more than 90% of women and girls who experience harassment.

Nasdaq Ring The Bell

2015

Two years after the launch of the global Ring the Bell campaign, UN Women—inspired by Breakthrough—launched Nasdaq Ring the Bell for Gender Equality, to establish high-level corporate leadership and accountability for gender equality. Stock exchanges from around the world joined UN Women to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in the private sector. A bell-ringing commemoration in New York capped off a week of events in Egypt, India, Poland, Nigeria, Sweden, and Turkey.

Fraternities challenging campus sexual violence

2015

Shaped by in-depth formative research, our on-campus leadership trainings (piloting on three U.S. campuses) are designed to unleash the potential of fraternity men and allies to dismantle rape culture from within and across the ecosystem that fuels it. We build confidence, trigger a multiplier effect, and send the message that sexual violence on campus and beyond is everyone’s problem to solve.

Breakthrough Inspiration Awards

2014

Gala in New York City celebrating the courage and commitment of the Breakthrough Generation, with awards presented to MasterCard president and CEO Ajay Banga and youth activists Tabbu Afroz and Nick Jaeger.

#Selfies4School

2014

10 days plus 25,000 selfies benefited 2,500 girls. With the support of Vodafone, millions in India and beyond learned the importance of girls’ education in preventing early marriage, underwrote the costs of keeping thousands of girls in school—and stood for the rights of girls to design their own futures.

Be That Guy: football fans

2014

Our 30-second animation appeared at fan tailgates at all Green Bay Packers 2014-15 season. The PSA series has been covered by global news media and seen by millions through the hashtag #bethatguy. Breaking through stereotypes and silences, this PSA series continues to inspire sports fans, men, and  allies to stop sexual harassment in public spaces, drive culture change game by game, and set new public standards for all.

Dudes Against Violence Against Women: Because DUH

2014

Our sold-out comedy show showed that dudes are against violence against women, and that pop culture—and its creators—have the power to shift norms and spark action.

Board the Bus

2014

Thousands of women and allies boarded Delhi public buses—cheered on by millions on social networks—to proudly and loudly claim that the bus as theirs to ride, without fear. With extensive press coverage and activist toolkits widening the impact, the effort put us on the road to a world in which all women get where they need to go. Watch.

Be That Guy: racing fans

2013

Our edgy, funny 30-second animation—premiering on Jumbotrons at major NASCAR races, the Daytona 500, the Indy 500, and more—measurably increased viewers’ willingness to call out harassment when they see it. Broader impact: placing a norm-challenging message in a key mainstream space at some of the country’s most popular sporting events is itself an indicator, and driver, of culture change.

Nation Against Early Marriage

2013

Highly visible national multimedia campaign challenging the deeply-rooted practice of early marriage and building a new future for girls in India. Buttressed by government partnerships and formative research, our multi-stakeholder approach uses community mobilization and popular technology to enable lawmakers, religious leaders, local groups, and families—even those who once denied the problem—to drive the norm change needed to stop early marriage.

Ring the Bell: global

2013

Millions worldwide heard Sir Patrick Stewart’s call to action at the global launch of Ring the Bell: One million men. One million promises. At coordinated events in New York City, New Delhi, Johannesburg, Kathmandu, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm, and Selangor, Breakthrough rallied men and allies worldwide to take concrete action to challenge violence against women.

#ImHere

2012

Multimedia campaign that reached more than seven million people, propelled the rights of immigrant women onto the national agenda at a pivotal time in American history, and drove demand for change. The centerpiece, “The Call”—a short narrative film about one mother facing an impossible choice—logged more than 75,000 views and brought home the impact of U.S. policy on the daily lives of immigrant women and families. Celebrity partners: Conor Oberst, Margaret Cho, Chandler Massey, and more.

America 2049

2011

This transmedia thriller brought human rights into gaming and new audiences into action. America2049 links the past to an imagined future, parachuting players into the year 2049. It placed Breakthrough on the leading edge of transmedia work for social justice and features Margaret Cho, Harold Perrineau (LOST), Victor Garber (Alias), and Cherry Jones (24). By immersing us in a virtual future, it inspires us to build a real America with human rights for all.

I Am This Land

2010

Breakthrough’s call for young Americans to use their imaginative capacity to celebrate our nation’s diversity. The winner of the inaugural video contest, representing the cutting-edge work of media arts students at an international high school in New York, was a creative response to a race-based incident of violence that shocked the community. The video is still used to spark fresh conversations about challenging discrimnation and stereotypes in schools across the country.

10th anniversary celebrations

2010

With a gala in New York City honoring Breakthrough Inspiration Awardee Eve Ensler, an extraordinary taboo-busting performance of the Vagina Monologues attended by 1,000 in New Delhi, and a high-style party hosted by Bombay’s fashion fraternity, we celebrated the pioneers and pathfinders dedicated to culture change and human rights.

Bell Bajao (“Ring the Bell”)

2009

Calling on men and boys to challenge domestic violence, Bell Bajao marked a fundamental transition to position men as partners. The multimedia campaign, in pro-bono partnership with Ogilvy and Mather, reached more than 130 million in India and went (and continues to be) internationally viral with adaptations in China, Pakistan, Malaysia, Canada, Peru, and more. Youth advocates traveled 80,000+ km in video vans, engaging 2.7+ million people. Winner of highly prestigious Cannes Silver Lion

Bell Bajao goes global

2010

Breakthrough brings Bell Bajao to the international stage, rallying new global ambassadors to the cause and calling on men and boys worldwide to “ring the bell” to interrupt domestic violence.

“Bell Bajao is a powerful way for men and boys to make a difference. Now we want the whole world to join us.” — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bell Bajao’s first Global Champion

Restore Fairness

2009

This multimedia initiative for racial justice positioned Breakthrough as a pioneer in the creative use of video to expose discrimination and spark action. Stories include Juana Villegas, who was detained while pregnant and shackled while giving birth, a teenaged girl detained without due process, and a transgender immigrant sexually abused in detention. As public attention to the rights of immigrant women increases, these videos remain relevant and resonant.

ICED – I Can End Deportation

2008

ICED made Breakthrough the first to use video game technology to educate and activate young people on immigrant rights. With hundreds of thousands of downloads and 28 million reached through extensive press coverage worldwide, ICED measurably changed the way people think about the human rights of immigrants and the importance of due process and fairness for all.

“This is not your usual computer game. ICED represents a new wave in programming.” — ABC News

Homeland Guantanamos

2008

Groundbreaking interactive multimedia online game putting players in the shoes of an undercover journalist investigating detention center abuses—and driving real-life action promoting human rights and due process for all.

“Breakthrough seeks to galvanize young people by using the new tools of popular culture to put them in the shoes of immigrants.” —New York Times

Is This Justice?

2007

Award-winning campaign drove large increase in awareness of the stigma and violence faced by India’s two million women living with HIV and AIDS, created in pro bono partnership with Ogilvy & Mather. Our multi- and mass media tools reached 35 million and generated a staggering 73% recall.

Why Can’t America Have Human Rights?

2006

Historic gathering at The Riverside Church with a wide range of activists and performers calling for a culture of human rights in the United States.

What Kind of Man Are You?

2005

Brought unprecedented public attention in India to the vulnerability of married women to HIV/AIDS (most of whom contract the virus from husbands or primary male partners) and amplified their power to negotiate safe sex. More than 280 million people reached through multimedia, news coverage, and a mention on Kaun Banega Crorepati, India’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Tri-Continental Film Festival

2004

Annually through 2009, Breakthrough showcased human rights cinema from South America, Africa, and Asia. The critically acclaimed films reached hundreds of thousands in India, targeting rural communities who rarely have such access.

Rights Advocates

2004

In 2004-2005, Breakthrough trained 650+ students to become peer leaders and changemakers on women’s rights. Today, more than 100,000 youth across India have become rights advocates, using our proven methodology to challenge cultural norms, even among the most patriarchal communities.

“Breakthrough’s training gave me immense confidence. It transformed me from a shy housewife behind closed doors to a member of society who helps women in need.” — Anita, Breakthrough Rights Advocate

Speak Up! Act Up! For a New America

2004

National immigrant youth and civic engagement initiative used theater, music, comic art and more to bring thousands of young people in New York, Chicago, and Houston into the electoral process leading up to the 2004 presidential vote.

 

Waking the American Dream: Promoting Immigrant Rights

2003

Our national five-performance series featuring acclaimed performance artist Sarah Jones combined the emotional power of theater with with provocative public dialogues to explore the increasingly critical issue of the status of immigrant women, men, and children in the U.S. These performances entertained and educated thousands at sold-out venues across the country and became the basis for Jones’ Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Bridge & Tunnel.

Concert for Peace

2001

After September 11, Breakthrough became a leading creative force in advocating against detention and deportation of immigrants without due process. Popular Sufi rock band Junoon created a musical space for New Yorkers of all backgrounds to reflect after September 11 and sparked cross-cultural dialogues on peace and human rights. Later featured on VH1.

 

Mann ke Manjeere (Rhythm of the Mind): An Album of Women’s Dreams

2000

Breakthrough’s founding initiative. This chart-busting, multi-award-winning music album and video compilation stirred unprecedented discussion about women’s rights and brought the problem of domestic violence out from behind closed doors. The title video celebrates a woman who leaves an abusive marriage and becomes a truck driver. The video reached more than 100 million households across South Asia and millions more worldwide.