“Human rights start with you.” – Breakthrough founder Mallika Dutt
Founded in the U.S. and India in 1999 by Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough works to promote human rights in the areas of immigration, racial justice, HIV/AIDS, and women’s rights. A pioneer in “using culture to change culture,” Breakthrough has a robust history of harnessing the power of arts, media, and tech to meet people where they are and move them to action.
In 1999, Mallika Dutt was searching for a breakthrough—a way to reach people where they are and inspire them to stand for human rights. That breakthrough was the chart-topping album and music video Mann Ke Manjeere. And that breakthrough became this Breakthrough. When producer after producer told Mallika that her idea—using popular culture to bring violence against women out of the shadows—would never succeed, she persevered. And nearly two decades later, her breakthrough strategy combining media, arts, and technology with community engagement and game-changing partnerships is driving demonstrable change and being embraced by many others worldwide. With Mallika at the helm, Breakthrough grew from a tiny crew in Mallika’s basement to a vibrant and committed global team of more than 100 leaders, innovators and advocates now recognized as a pioneer and powerhouse.
That’s why today, when you hear vibrant, exciting conversations about culture change, or gaming for good, or the power of tech for social justice, it’s in part because Mallika Dutt started them. Mallika has long insisted that we must infuse real lives with human rights values of dignity and equality. And that’s what happens when we reach people where they are, and embolden them to act for change in their own spheres. That’s what Mallika knew when she led the creation of ICED – I Can End Deportation: the first 3D game for immigrant rights and racial justice, and game-changing campaigns like Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell), which encouraged men to take responsibility for challenging domestic violence in India and around the world.
Mallika served as President and CEO of the organization from its founding in 2000 through early 2017. She now serves on the Board of Directors.